Left The Doyle  Aquatic Center at the Long Center is where the American Junior National Classic Championship was held. Above Max White leaps off the starting block during one of four races in Clearwater, Fla. He found the podium in three of the four races, with his highest placement coming in the 200m butterfly.
Courtesy of the White family
Left The Doyle Aquatic Center at the Long Center is where the American Junior National Classic Championship was held. Above Max White leaps off the starting block during one of four races in Clearwater, Fla. He found the podium in three of the four races, with his highest placement coming in the 200m butterfly. Courtesy of the White family

Howard County Aquatics (HCA) Hurricanes swimmer Max White competed at the American Junior National Classic Championship in Clearwater, Fla. just before spring break. 

Having been in HCA since the age of 8, it wasn’t until he was 12 that the competitive bug hit the high school junior.

“That was the year I got my first divisional cut and my first state cut. That’s when I started to think I could go somewhere with this,” White said. “I started specializing in the fly and free, which I’ve always done, and distance.”

For this competition, his best times in the 50 Fly, 200 Free, 100 Fly, and 200 Fly were used to qualify him for the meet. While his times in the 100 Fly and 50 Fly made the cut, he had to “bonus” the 200 Free and Fly, where he didn’t have the cut time, but was capable of swimming the race competitively. Ironically, his best placement from the weekend came in the 200 Fly. White’s time was good for fourth overall. He placed ninth in the 50 Fly, 13th in the 100 Fly, and 20th in the 200 Free.

“I was expecting a pretty good time drop in that race, but I wasn’t really sure about it because I haven’t swam it much this season. I was happy that I got that high of place (in the 200 fly),” White said.

White didn’t set high expectations for this meet because there has been such a long layoff since the high school season ended.

“Going into the post high school season, it gets more difficult. At the end of high school, you go through a big rest period for sectional and then you go straight back into training. Then you go to another rest and back to training ahead of this meet. For this most recent one, I couldn’t put that high of an expectation on it because it’s been about two months since racing. You just want to go out there and see what you can do. You just race,” said White.

This is not the first out of state competition he has participated in. He has traveled to Kansas, Grand Junction, Colo., and Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Most of the time, he competes at the IUPUI Natatorium. Leaving the area is good for competition, as it exposes him to other swimmers across the nation.

“I know a majority of the guys that I swim against around here. There, I don’t really know anyone, so you get different competition than you are used to,” he said.

These events are similar to the basketball exposure tournaments throughout the United States, so it helps him get looks from various colleges that send recruiters to the big meets.  

“It’s race time. The more you race, the better you are going to get. You put in more training effort, you get faster,” he said. “I like the atmosphere of racing. It’s why I like swimming. I like how excited the people get and how much fun racing is. I don’t worry about what others are doing. I just do my own thing.”

Part of doing his own thing is focusing on reaching the time standards he sets for himself. White said he rarely focuses on finishing in a certain place or beating a particular opponent. The goals he sets for each race are mostly state cut times.

All of this training helps reach his goals for the school season, which will not start back up until November. Competitions and continued practice gets him ready for the next round.

“We do a lot of dry land, weightlifting and core workouts. We don’t really run that much but we do a lot of stuff outside the pool for strength training, so we can get more power in the pool. I added yoga this year for more flexibility. Some strokes require a lot of flexibility and yoga helps with that and balance in the water,” he said. “You have to put in the work to get there. You have to find your weaknesses and focus on them. You have to train at what you are good at and keep pushing yourself to where you feel you can get.”