Max McHugh hopes to make a positive impact on Minnesota swimming

Freshman Max McHugh is making a mark early in his career.

Danielle Pederson

A new McHugh has arrived in Minnesota from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and has already made a splash on the Gopher men’s swim and dive team.

Max McHugh, brother of former Gophers swimmer and NCAA All-American Conner McHugh, represented the University of Minnesota at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this past weekend as the only Minnesota freshman on the all-star roster.

At the competition, McHugh posted the nation’s top time in the 200-meter breaststroke on the first day of competition and finished second behind the 2018 NCAA Champion in the 100-meter breaststroke on the second day.

While McHugh thinks highly of his brother, he plans to make his own mark at Minnesota.

“My brother has always been a positive role model for me,” McHugh said. “He was very successful in his career [at Minnesota], but I have my own career, my own path.”

McHugh intends to declare sports psychology as his major but is taking his freshman year to focus on general education requirements and the adjustment to college life.

“At first, the transition was hard because everything was new and I had to adapt. We’re at about the third month in and I feel like I’ve got the hang of things,” he said.

Head coach of Minnesota’s swim and dive teams, Kelly Kremer, is excited to have McHugh on his team and spoke highly of him.

“I’m fortunate enough to have known the [McHugh] family for many years,” said Kremer. “What stood out to me about Max when I first met him was that he’s a humble, really grounded young man. I also like that fact that Max says ‘thank you’ a lot. He’s a very appreciative individual and I knew he’d be somebody that I really enjoy coaching.”

McHugh’s presence on the team is enjoyed by coaches and teammates alike. 

“Max is a great teammate. He’s always super positive, he’s funny and just a great guy all around. It’s great to have him on the team. I personally get to train with him; we’re in the same group and it’s really fun to share a lane. He’s really motivational,” said fellow backstroke and freestyle swimmer Nick Saulnier.

Over his next four years as a Minnesota swimmer, McHugh has set and hopes to accomplish big goals for himself and the Minnesota swim and dive program.

“I’d like to win a NCAA championship individually before my career is finished. I’d love to see a relay [team] also get to that point and for the team to improve as a whole. I want the team to be better than what it was when I came in,” said McHugh.

Kremer believes McHugh’s successes will continue throughout his time at Minnesota and beyond. He said McHugh can challenge for everything from spots on the national teams to Big Ten championships.

“Whatever Max puts his mind to and whatever Max commits to, he is capable of achieving,” said Kremer.