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South Valley Journal

Swimming star and former Riverton athlete excelling at New York university

Jul 01, 2020 01:34PM ● By Greg James

Maxfield holds five school swim records at RPI in Troy, New York. (Photo courtesy of RPI athletics.)

By Greg James | g.james@mycityjournals.com               

The slogan at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is: Why not change the world? A former Riverton swimmer did just that.

“When I picked the school, swimming was just kind of a bonus,” Trevor Maxfield said.

RPI is located in Troy, New York, north of Albany on the eastern edge of the Hudson River, nearly 2,215 miles from Riverton.

“I was going to the school for the academics, and my skills fit right in with the team,” Maxfield said. “I loved swimming at RPI.”

As a swim team captain, he had 39 wins, finished second 21 times and third 10 times. He currently holds five school records (500-meter freestyle, 1000 free, 400 free relay and 800 free relay). His team also won the Liberty League title all four years he attended the school.

In his time at RPI, he dropped nearly 20 seconds from his 500 free time—an incredible feat considering the race is usually done in under five minutes.

His success was not limited to the pool. He was named to the Dean’s honor list and graduated in three years, using his fourth year of eligibility to complete his master’s degree.

“It was tough,” he said. “My life was wake up, go to practice, go to class, do homework all day then go back to practice and more homework after practice. My friends would ask me to do something; I would say ‘after my work was done.’ I had to be driven in all aspects. I could not let sports or academics slack.” 

In his time, he helped organize a team study hall. He asked the upperclassman to help the underclassman.

“College academics have another layer of learning to play the game that is college,” he said. “We helped the younger students figure out how to study, how to talk to professors—all the stuff they can only gain with experience in school. I wanted to see how we could help each other, not just with homework, but also with college life.”

He plans to attend Stanford University this fall to earn his Ph.D. in computational mathematics.

“That sums up my experience in the program,” he said. “I went for an education, but it was a really great team, and they helped me progress a lot. It became a big part of my college experience that I was not expecting.”

He started swimming when he was 10 years old after he brought a flier home from school. His mother encouraged him to give it a try. Eleven years of competitive swimming have passed, and he plans on taking a short break but rejoining in a masters or intramural program when he can.

“He has done very well for himself,” RPI head swim coach Shannon O’Brien said. “He leads by example. He trains at 110% all of the time. As he got older, strategy became important to him. He has shown tremendous growth.”

Maxfield has encouraged other students to look for opportunities at schools not in Utah.

“The biggest thing I found was there are plenty of opportunities out there,” he said. “There are schools all over the place for students to try something new. I encourage kids to explore your options. We miss out on some things by not looking around.”