Matt McLean – Work the Dream Grant Awardee
Matt McLean, a native of Sterling, VA, had an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Virginia, and within the last year has proven to be one of the most talented middle distance swimmers on the international stage. During his time as a Cavalier, Matt was named the 2008 Freshman of the Year, 2008, 2009, and 2011 ACC Swimmer of the Meet, and two-time ACC Swimmer of the Year. He was a seventeen-time ACC Champion, fifteen-time NCAA All American, and 2011 NCAA Champion in the 500 freestyle. After graduation, McLean relocated to California where he now trains under legendary coach Jon Urbanchek at Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST). This past summer Matt continued his success, winning gold in the 200 freestyle and as a member of the 800 freestyle relay at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China. McLean’s ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in both individual and relay events.
The below quotes are excepts from Matt McLean’s application essay for the 2011-2012 Work the Dream Grant.
“I compete not only with other swimmers, but with the clock, my coaches, and my body as well.”
2011 University of Virginia graduate Matt McLean has earned a reputation as one of the elite swimmers in the US not because of his natural talent, but because of his fierce competitiveness and will to exceed his known limits. Similarly, Fran was known to take on the toughest training sets possible, always pushing his coaches to give him more. This mentality is what Fran said pushed him to be the best and earn him the reputation as the best closer in open water swimming. In McLean’s senior season at UVA McLean was an ACC favorite but was not on the radar for a top 2 finish at NCAAs in the 500 free with defending NCAA champion Conor Dywer and US National Team Member Bobby Bollier both heavy favorites. Despite his underdog status McLean exploded through his known limits on his way to his first NCAA title, besting the competition by 3 full seconds.
My end goal is to make the 2012 Olympic team in the 400 freestyle and as a member of the 800 freestyle relay, but I prefer to focus on process goals on a daily basis and learn as much from the experience as possible. I love being a student of the sport and taking everything in. I believe the challenge, pain, exhaustion, and ability to overcome these difficulties build both physical and mental toughness, as well as character. I love not only swimming, but what the sport has done for me.
Matt McLean’s love for swimming truly embodies the way Fran felt about the sport that defined him. Each day, each meet, each training set, all provide an opportunity to examine your performance, refining your abilities to bring you one step closer to achieving your goals.
Work the Dream, Matt! We look forward to cheering you on at Trials and again in London!