(Aug. 30, 2019) Fifteen-year-old Caleb Vaxmonsky of West Ocean City has the opportunity of a lifetime awaiting him at the end of September; he will begin training to become an Olympic swimmer for the 2020 Games.
Next month, Vaxmonsky will spend three to four days a week in Colorado Springs training alongside 29 other boys and girls, who were nominated from Maryland. He will train for several hours each day he is in Colorado.
Vaxmonsky is expected to miss a minimum of three days of school every week from September to June, when the trials are completed. He will still be enrolled at Stephen Decatur and will have to finish his assignments on time just like any of his other classmates.
The athletes will have to go through several trials that will be supervised by an Olympic coach. If the athletes complete the trials, he or she have a chance at becoming an Olympian for one of nine swimming events.
The chances of being chosen for the Olympics are slim, according to Vaxmonsky’s coach, Scott McIntire.
“In the swimming world, we know the chances of him making the Olympics are incredibly difficult,” McIntire said. “It’s the best in the world.”
Vaxmonsky hopes to swim as well as his role models, who are not, surprisingly, Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky (both are from Maryland). Instead, his role models are much closer to home.
“My best friends, Josh and Kyle Doxtator (a Florida State student who shared a coach with Vaxmonsky), are some of my idols,” he said.
Vaxmonsky, a Stephen Decatur High School junior, discovered his love for swimming at the age of 3. The teenager is a member of the beach patrol in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
At age 11, he met McIntire, who lives in Gumboro, Delaware. McIntire, coincidentally, knew Vaxmonsky’s mother, Heather, when they were on the Ocean City Beach Patrol years ago.
“There was a time where I wasn’t doing any coaching except private and his mom asked if I would work privately with him,” McIntire said. “My son was 12 and [Vaxmonsky] was 11 and I started doing some private coaching with him at Ocean Pines.”
McIntire knew once Vaxmonsky was 13 years old that the lanky, 6-foot 4-inch swimmer had what it took to become an Olympian.
“I’m proud of him, because a lot of kids will say, ‘I’m good at this and this and I’m satisfied with that.’ He’s not,” McIntire said.
Vaxmonsky and McIntire have a training schedule including swimming two hours a night on the weekdays and three hours on the weekends, with additional swimming training during school hours, as Vaxmonsky is a member of Stephen Decatur’s swim team.
In order to be eligible to train as an Olympic swimmer, the candidate must be between 14-16 years old and be recommended by his or her coach, according to McIntire. The Maryland board of the United States Olympic Committee determines who is qualified.
“He has an incredible backstroke,” McIntire said. “His next best thing is distance freestyle. He’s very good at distance, which is a pure endurance-based program, and then he has to show versatility. He’s also made himself incredibly good at his breaststroke and butterfly … his weakest strokes.
“He ended up being very, very good at eight or nine events instead of just three or four,” he continued. “That was a testament to his desire to be good at all those things.”
Vaxmonsky plans to go to college for engineering, and his dream schools would be North Carolina State or University of Maryland, College Park if the school brings back its swimming program.
For now, Vaxmonsky is concentrating on his training and preparing for his upcoming trials.
“It’s pretty cool,” Vaxmonsky said. “It’s such a cool feeling that I’m going to Colorado to [train for the Olympics]. It’s so awesome.”