Mack Darragh loves swimming, even in defeat.
Last Saturday night’s loss at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre in the 200m butterfly was not enough to hurt Darragh’s passion for swimming, even though it cost him a chance to swim for Team Canada.
Right after accepting his bronze medal at the trials, Darragh was able to still fondly speak of swimming.
“I think I just love the competition,” said Darragh, standing in the mixed zone at the Canadian swim trials. “I love racing people, I think it’s fun coming down to a showdown.”
Darragh’s connection with swimming was forged at an early age because of his asthma. The sport was one that allowed him to push past his deficiency and excel.
His abilities now when in the pool are no longer hindered by his affliction and he himself was quick to deny that it bothers him much anymore when he’s swimming.
“Not too much anymore, asthma doesn’t bother me anywhere near as much as it used to,” said Darragh. “I don’t really notice it too much anymore.”
Natural ability is obvious when peering into the talents of high-end athletes, professional or amateur, however, it is those that are able to work hard that can stand apart.
Sean Baker, the Oakville Aquatic Swim Club coach, believes work ethic is what allows Darragh to be a special swimmer. His commitment to training has made him a fierce competitor in the pool.
“Mack’s greatest strength is his ability to work hard and really push through the pain,” said Baker. “He’s a very tough trainer and competitor.”
Asked what comes to mind when thinking of Darragh, Baker’s answer deviated from the conversation about the athlete and focused on the man outside of the pool.
“Mack’s a great person, said Baker. “He’s really a great teammate, he’s very energetic, he’s very well liked and he’s really just a great guy.
That great guy has been accomplishing some good things for himself of late.
Darragh recently just ended his NCAA swimming career with the Mizzou Tigers by earning a first team All-American honours, swimming a personal best in the prelims and helping his school to a record 11th-place finish.
The only sour note coming off his NCAA swimming finals was that they came right before the Canadian trials. The fatigue from his university meet was something Darragh believed hurt him during his Saturday swim.
“Two meets back to back is kind of tough and I’m just kind of fatigued from that,” said Darragh. “Not exactly the racing conditions I wanted to be in.”
Darragh held a lead going into the last turn. He lost a four way battle during the last 50 metres that saw Olympian Alec Page win gold.
The resilient 21-year-old was definitely frustrated after the tough loss, as it was his race to lose going into the heat the prelim favourite.
But Darragh was ready to talk about his future in swimming, knowing this loss was not his last and that there is another world stage that he has his sights set on.
“Trying to make the Olympic team next year,” said Darragh. “I’ll do more long course training and more distance fly training through this year and see where that brings me.”
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