Pictured in his Wolfpack hoodie, Westwood resident Matt McDonald will continue his academic and swimming career at NC State this fall. Photo by Laurie McDonald.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Ranked as the No. 1 swimmer in New England and committed to ACC powerhouse North Carolina State, 2020 was shaping up to be a big year in the pool for Westwood’s Matt McDonald.
A senior at Westwood High School and a member of Gators Swim Club, McDonald was hoping to qualify for Olympic trials this summer. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of that. Forced to swim at Walden Pond in Concord due to public pools being closed, McDonald has been in shut-down mode for the past three months.
Due to strict rules forcing athletes to choose between swimming for their club or high school team, McDonald only swam one season for Westwood High, as a freshman in 2016-2017. During his lone season of competition for the Wolverines, after fighting his way back from a serious back injury, McDonald broke three records and helped Westwood to a 5-3 record (4-2 TVL). McDonald qualified for states and sectionals in almost every event he competed in that season. At the TVLs, McDonald placed second in the 100 butterfly (54.12), and placed first in the 100 backstroke (56.76). Both of McDonald’s times were season-bests and school records.
Following his freshman year, McDonald opted to swim for Gators Swim Club instead of Westwood. The move paid off, big-time, as McDonald worked his way to a top-50 ranking in the entire country in the 100 butterfly, 110 freestyle and 50 freestyle. McDonald’s hard work earned him the attention of many premiere Division I schools, which included Penn State, Virginia Tech, George Washington and Ohio State, before ultimately choosing to commit to NC State, the reigning six-time champions of the ACC. McDonald’s 2020 recruiting class at NC State is ranked No. 3 in the country, so expect the trend of dominant Wolfpack swim teams to continue.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as game highlights, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.