Evan White is doing all the right things, coming from a small town and now making noise on both the NCAA and national swimming scenes.
The 19-year-old, who hails from Oakville, Ont., is finishing up his freshman year at the university of Michigan, and has embraced the challenge of such a dynamic jump making a noticeable splash in the Wolverine program.
White was named 2015 Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year, and was an NCAA All American Honourable Mention, but personal accolades take a backseat to the overall experience.
“It’s great to be at Michigan and racing at big meets like Big 10’s and NCAA’s,” said White after his preliminary trials Saturday afternoon at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough, Ont. “It’s a lot of fun trying to put points on the board for Michigan.”
One of the clear-cut advantages for White being at such a reputable school is that he can surround himself with elite-level talent – something Sean Baker, his Oakville Aquatics Club coach, feels is invaluable.
“The benefit of him being at Michigan is he has the really great Olympic level and international talent athletes to measure himself against,” Baker said, in a phone interview.
And while White is constantly competing against these top tier athletes, he also has the opportunity to learn from a few in practice who wear the Wolverine blue-and-yellow.
“It’s really a great opportunity being able to train with a great group of guys like Kyle Whitaker and Dylan Bosch. They’re both international level swimmers,” White said. “It’s really humbling as well, and it pushes me a lot to compete with them.”
Whitaker is a U.S. national team member specializing in the 200 Fly, and Bosch, the 2015 Big Ten Swimmer of the Year, represents the South African national team, and is an 11-time South African junior national medalist.
But there is an additional side to university athletics, and finding the balance between the pool and the classroom is another challenge in itself.
“It’s hard, but I get a lot of support here,” said White. “The team is really serious about academics as well, so everyone is pushing to do the best they can in swimming and school.”
Staying diligent in the both athletics and academics are going to be crucial in White’s pursuit to make the Canadian Olympic team, a feat that Baker believes he is fully capable of in the near future.
“I have no doubt in my mind he can make the Olympic team,” said Baker. “If he continues doing what he’s doing, and he manages his school and his lifestyle and all those sorts of things, I would be shocked if he didn’t make it.”
White will begin his surge to join the Canadian Olympic team conversation in this year’s upcoming Pan Am Games, as he posted a silver-medal time of 2:02.14 in last Saturday night’s qualifier, touching the wall well below the 2:07.29 Pan Am cut line.
He has some work to do to for the World Championship cut line that stands at 1:59.22.
“He’s one of those athletes that has the ability and has the attitude and the mindset that he’s very goal-oriented,” said Baker.
“He knows what he wants. He’s very diligent day in and day out.”
Follow Kyle Enright on Twitter @Kyle3nright