Sports

Bolton native Paige McLean build a new life off back of swimming scholarship

April 23, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ROBERT BELARDI

There aren’t very many places in the world that are strictly forbidden to move to. There’s an open-endedness that if you are willing, to move to another country, it doesn’t seem impossible. 

Especially when you want to move south of the border. The earnestness to try a new lifestyle or experience a different culture than the one you grew up in, simply, does not mean you want to escape, but you want to grow. 

In fact, Bolton native Paige McLean currently lives in the United States. She went to school at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania for psychology and sociology, earned her Masters at the University of Missouri and now, currently works as an Academic Advisor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She works directly with women’s basketball, men’s soccer and women’s soccer players. 

“This is my dream job for where I am currently at in my career. I feel fortunate to have found my passion so early on in my professional career” McLean relished. 

She lives downtown in Kansas City right now with her boyfriend Clement. Clement is a mechanical engineer from Toulon, France. She doesn’t know what the future has in store. As of now, the couple are working through finalizing their visa documents to work within the United States. 

“I think for right now, I want to stay in the United States. I love what I do, and to continue doing that, means living in the US. Although, it is difficult being so far from my family.” 

Her ambiguity for the possibility of where to live, stands out from her personality. It’s aberrational from those who want to see it differently. But what gave her this opportunity to live where she is, is of course, a sport. 

McLean joined the George Jacobson Swimming School at the age of four. She began skating at the age of five. Soccer wasn’t too far behind after that. 

She balanced swimming, hockey and soccer for many years excelling in all three of them. 

In 2002, McLean joined the Vaughan Aquatic Club and remained there for 11 years. She was keen on a swimming career officially, when she was left to make a choice at the age of 12. 

Her swimming coach, George Jacobson, was also eager for her to make a decision before extensive practice sessions began. 

“I sat down with my parents and I just knew with swimming it was what I wanted to do and it is what I was passionate about. My parents supported the decision fully. They have always been my biggest advocates,” she explained. 

It was a good decision. McLean held 24 club records leaving the team. She competed in two Ontario Championships, three Ontario Short Course Championships, four Ontario Long Course Championships, two Eastern Canadian Championships and three Canadian Age Group of National Championships. 

“Now that I’m looking back at it, I think it’s pretty incredible having done that,” McLean said. 

Etobicoke was the top club and Vaughan was a small club in comparison. 

Jacobson describes, McLean as the “break-through” for the program. She broke through not only Vaughan, but at her high school as well. 

She influenced her high school, St. Michael’s in Bolton to begin a swimming program. The community centre was right around the corner. She says she felt gratitude, knowing she can make a positive influence at the school. 

In 2013, the summer before senior year, is when she began receiving offers from division one schools in the United States. McLean says, the United States education system through sport is second to none. 

She received offers from Youngstown, Marist, Seton Hall, St. Francis College and finally, St. Francis University in Pennsylvania. She chose SFU Pennsylvania because of the team, as well as the coach at the time, Patrick Gallagher. 

McLean received an upsetting phone call a week after her commitment, directly from Gallagher, receiving news that he had taken an assistant coach position at Cornell University. 

“I just broke down. I told my parents I don’t know what to do. This is where I want to go,” McLean described. 

With advice from her parents, she decided it was best to stick it out. Give it a shot and see if the new coach, Rory Coleman, would be a great fit for her future at the school. 

“My new coach was awesome, we actually still talk now. I have only had two swim coaches in my life, so it was great that he was with me throughout my four years at SFU.” 

College training was drastically different from club swimming. McLean was practicing multiple times a day and lifting weights; something she was never used to do doing with Vaughan. She says, it took her to the next level and as a matter of fact, it did. 

Throughout some of her accolades in her senior year at the school; Paige was part of the 200 Medley relay team who placed 3rd at the 2017 Northeast Conference Swimming Championships. She also had two 5th place finishes in the 1650 freestyle, and two 7th place finishes in the 400 Individual Medley at the NEC Championships over the course of her 4 year college swimming career.

In 2017, McLean graduated with a B.A in Psychology/Sociology and was a five-time Dean’s/Provost list honoree. She has an avid interest in learning how the mind works, and advocates for positive mental health practices to this day. 

Swimming in particular, provided her a life elsewhere. Now living in a Super Bowl winning town in Kansas City, much to McLean’s and her boyfriend Clement’s delight, who knows what will be in store for her future. 

For now, it’s in Missouri. 



         

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