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Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Swimming to the Olympics

Max Wilson takes charge in the race. (Submitted photo)

At just 20 years old, Max Wilson is set to represent the U.S. Virgin Islands on the world’s biggest stage: the Olympics. His journey from the small island of St. Thomas to the global arena of Olympic swimming is a testament to his dedication, hard work, and the unwavering support of his family and coach.

Wilson began swimming at the tender age of 7, joining the St. Thomas Swim Association. With his parents and coach consistently pushing him, Wilson navigated through countless early morning and late afternoon training sessions. “There were definitely times when I didn’t want to do it at all,” Wilson recalls. “But my coach and parents really pushed that through and made it happen.”

Finding out he would be swimming for the Olympics was a surreal moment for Wilson. “It was kind of like a dream come true,” he said. “It’s a really big deal, and I feel privileged to be going.” Despite the initial excitement, Wilson remains grounded. “With a lot of dreams, it seems like such a hard thing to achieve. Now that it has been achieved, it’s kind of toned down the severity, but it’s still a really big deal for me.”

Training for the Olympics is no small feat. Wilson’s typical day starts at 6 a.m., with a practice session from 7 to 9:30 a.m., followed by a gym session from 10 to 11 a.m. During the fall, his schedule intensifies with double practices and additional gym sessions.

“Every practice has a lot more pressure now,”  Wilson explained. “I’m trying to nail everything and do more deliberate training so I can achieve my goals at the Olympics.”

Wilson’s primary goal for the Olympics is to achieve a personal best and represent the Virgin Islands to the best of his ability. “It’s going to be really tough to medal, but I’m going to try my best,” he said.

He acknowledges the stiff competition, with many swimmers being older and more experienced, but remains focused on his long-term aspirations. “I hope to keep swimming, keep getting better, and climb the ranks in the swimming world.” Representing the Virgin Islands comes with its own set of pressures and privileges. “It’s a privilege to represent the V.I. and make them proud,”  Wilson said. He hopes to be a positive face for the territory and to inspire others. “I want to make the V.I. look good and represent my home the best I can.”

Outside of swimming, Wilson is majoring in marketing and plans to pursue it once he graduates. However, swimming will always be a part of his life. “I just can’t see myself without it,” he says. Even if he doesn’t continue competitively, he plans to stay active in the sport to maintain his fitness.

As Wilson prepares to dive into the Olympic pool, his story serves as an inspiration to young athletes everywhere. From the serene beaches of St. Thomas to the grand stage of the Olympics, Wilson’s journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, dedication, and the support of a close-knit community.

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