Maxime Rooney: Riding Confidence Boost from Summer Success

Maxime Rooney: Riding Confidence Boost from Summer Success

By Mike Watkins//Contributor  | Friday, September 15, 2017

Even though he was present at U.S. Olympic Trials last summer, Maxime Rooney isn’t sure he actually showed up to compete.

In his view, you need to believe you can make the Olympic team to have a chance at making the team, and that just wasn’t the case for him in Omaha.

But rather than dwell on the outcomes of his races (9th in the 200 freestyle and 11th in the 100 free), Rooney said he chose to use it as fuel to drive him forward leading up to the next Olympics.

“It was my first Olympic Trials, and it was a solid experience,” said Rooney, who competed at Trials last summer before his freshman year at Florida. “I wanted to place higher and make the Olympic team, but at the end of the day, it was about who showed up on that day.

“I didn’t do that. I’m not disappointed, rather I am wholly more motivated to see if I can make it in 2020 and see how good I can be.”

Rooney made the most of his Trials learning experience by coming to Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships earlier this summer and competing at a very high level.

Although he missed making the coveted FINA World Championships team, he did qualify for multiple events for World University Games a month later in Korea.

But before leaving for WUGs, Rooney competed in a couple of “tune-up” events at the U.S. Open to get in race shape – and it paid off.

“The experience was incredible,” said Rooney, whose name Maxime (not Max) is French and rooted in his mother’s Belgian heritage. “I had the privilege of meeting some amazing athletes, coaches and staff. They all made the trip very joyful.

“The attitude was always positive and I think that’s what drove us to being a tight-knit and fierce team producing those types of special results.”

While he missed out on bringing home any individual hardware, Rooney did return to the states with three relay medals – one gold, two silver – from Korea.

Added to the five medals (2 gold, 3 silver) he won two years ago at World Junior Championships and the National title he won in 2015 in the 200 freestyle, Rooney appears well on his way to continued success in the future.

But he said he knows it won’t come easily to him.

He’ll have to go get it – and he feels more ready with each practice, meet and race – something he absolutely relishes.

“Each time I get to race, I learn about myself, whether that is in how best to prepare myself or the details I need to be more conscientious of in practice,” said Rooney, who enjoys playing basketball, watching the Golden State Warriors, paint balling, writing for my blog and spending time with people who mean a lot to him when he’s not swimming.

“I think the excitement carried me to some quick swims. What I was most excited with was that, with each swim this summer I gained a bit more confidence and that’s going to be much needed moving forward these next three years.”

A sophomore at Florida, Rooney said he is excited every day to get the opportunity to work with and learn from Coach Gregg Troy and his staff.

An English major, Rooney knows the past year in the Gator Swimming program has made him better and continues to prepare him for the future – which, as a dual-citizen of the United States and the Philippines (his dad is Filipino), Rooney hopes will include a trip to the Olympics.

And while he could swim for the Philippines and almost certainly make the next Olympics, Rooney, who was born and lived in the United States his entire life, doesn’t want to compete for any other country.

“I wanted to place higher and make the Olympic team, but at the end of the day, it was about who showed up on that day,” said Rooney, who learned to swim when he was 4 to be water safe and continued to swim because he loved the water.

“I didn’t do that. I’m not disappointed, rather I am wholly more motivated to see if I can make it in 2020 and see how good I can be.”

With his summer adventures behind him but not gone from his thoughts, Rooney said he’s excited to be back at Florida working with Coach Troy, swimming with his Gator teammates and taking classes.

But he said he recognizes the indelible mark the success and experiences he enjoyed in Indianapolis, New York and Korea has left upon him as he looks to the next few years heading toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I learned a lot about myself as a swimmer and a person this summer,” he said. “I think the main lessons I took away from all meets, training, family time, and all what I did this summer was to be patient with the process and always show love. To show love to my family and treasure the time with them. To enjoy every minute of what I do in the water. To show appreciation for the opportunity to train under great coaches with great teammates. 

“This summer gave me lots of confidence moving forward. Whenever you see best times or right on your best times, you are reassured that what you’re doing is working. In saying that, I gained more confidence in myself, but I still need to trust my coaches and others to help get me to where I want to be. Furthermore, having more confidence doesn’t mean it is going to come any easier. I need to work more and harder to be better and eventually be the best.” 



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