Maxime Rooney Writing Short Stories In, Out of the Water

during the Gators' meet against the Kentucky Wildcats and Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday, January 4, 2019 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Natatorium in Gainesville, FL / UAA Communications photo by Tim Casey

When Maxime Rooney is out of the water, he finds inspiration in his writing.

The Florida swimmer has been able to put those inspirations into words, mostly in the form of short stories, but hopes to be a novelist.

His career in the water has mirrored that as each season, or even each big moment, is its own short story for Rooney.

“My pastor is an academic scholar. The way he writes really inspires me,” Rooney told Swimming World. “I remember reading ‘No Limits’ by Michael Phelps. Each chapter was like its own short story. In a parallel way, I can see a short story coming from each year in college. I like writing about anything that comes to my heart. Because swimming is a big part of my life, I draw some of inspiration from it.”

Rooney is hoping the end of the season has plenty of inspiring moments, starting at the SEC Championships. Check out more SEC coverage here.

He has the third-fastest time in the conference in the 100 freestyle (42.39) and fourth-fastest time in the 200 freestyle (1:33.57). He also is a part of the SEC-leading 800 free relay (6:15.04).

The meet, which Florida won handily last year, will be much closer with teams like Auburn and Tennessee challenging the Gators for the title.

“It is a really exciting meet. Our coaches scored out the meet from the winter rankings and we don’t win. But that being said, we want to defend our title. Hopefully we can come out on top of those close races,” Rooney said.

“Leading up to SECs, the last two Saturdays, we got to race against Auburn and Tennessee. We got a taste of what is to come. We know they want to beat us and we want to beat them. It is nice to have those dual meet experiences to prepare.”

Rooney has also been preparing differently this season, and it has nothing to do with his technique. After losing a senior class that included Caeleb Dressel, Jan Switkowski and Mark Szaranek, the Gators are looking to Rooney as a leader this season.

“We all understand with that big senior class gone that we have a lot to fill. We have been trying to pick up the slack and fill those gaps,” Rooney said. “I want to do my best at SECs. It comes back to my training every day. I want those details to show up.

“It is my first year having a full plate of events — three individual and four relays or five relays and two individual. I will be in a lot of quality races and I am excited to do my best in every one.”

While Rooney was an underclassman on some mega Florida relays, along with Dressel, Switkowski and Szaranek, he was paying attention.

“With my first two years, we had some heavy hitters. I saw how they handled pressure. They always came through when we needed them in the clutch,” Rooney said. “I have tried to implement things that make me successful and have the confidence that I can perform at crunch time.”

Maxime Rooney

Photo Courtesy: Tim Casey

His coaches have that confidence in him as well. That in itself has been another transition as Gregg Troy retired from Florida to concentrate on coaching elite club athletes, leaving the team to Anthony Nesty and Stephen Jungbluth.

“I was super excited when I heard Nesty and Stephen were going to be the coaches. I didn’t want new coaches. I felt like I had created a relationship with them. I think I would have had a fresh start and I didn’t really want that,” Rooney said. “I knew the program would be in good hands.”

Their chemistry started in the offseason with Rooney.

“Last summer, I really took the opportunity to work with them. That is why we have seen the results. We have a great partnership,” he said. “I always want to give my best. I don’t want to limit anything. I would like to be on that Olympic team next year. With me doing the work here, I have all the tools to make me successful.”

The first step is leading Florida in search of another SEC title.