South Charlotte

Swimmer is getting family tradition all wet

Charlotte Latin's Michael Chadwick, 16, has always had a great athletic reputation to live up to, even within his own family.

His father, the Rev. David Chadwick, pastor at Forest Hills Church since 1980, was a key player for coach Dean Smith at UNC from 1967-71, also playing for the 1969 Final Four Tarheel team.

His older brother, David Banner Chadwick, is a sophomore forward on the Rice University basketball team, after starring at Charlotte Latin as an all-state forward.

Even Michael's older sister, Bethany, was an all-state volleyball player at Providence Day.

While Michael enjoyed basketball for most of his childhood, he decided in seventh grade he would pursue his future in the pool.

"Growing up, I always played basketball, and people thought I would be as good as my brother," Michael said. "But I never really loved the game, and I always loved being in the pool. I decided to take a different path, and really my entire life has sort of formed around swimming."

Michael, a junior at Charlotte Latin, also nearly measures up to his father and brother in height. His father is 6-foot-7, brother David is 6-foot-9 and Michael is 6-foot-5, 150 pounds - for now.

No matter how tall he is or what sport he plays, his father always wanted Michael to do whatever he likes best. "I want my kids to be whatever they want to be in life," David Chadwick said. "Michael has shown a steady progression in swimming his whole life. I think he is just starting to realize how good he can be."

Michael started swimming when his next-door neighbor, Susan Flynn, first took him to the pool and put him in the water at Olde Georgetowne Swim and Tennis Club. At Olde Georgetown, swimming coach Leslie Berens - now also South Meck's swimming coach and mother of U.S. Olympian and gold medalist Ricky Berens - noticed Chadwick's talent and potential. Berens' direction helped mold Michael's early ability in the pool and his love for the sport.

"Our joke is once Susan took Michael down to the pool when he was 7 years old, that he has never gotten out since," Michael's father said.

Michael Chadwick got more serious about swimming when he joined SwimMAC Carolinas' team, where he still works at least 25 hours per week under coach James Wike. He also swims daily with other local standouts, including Providence's Kyle Darmody, Kevin Glenn and Austin Snyder, as well as Latin's Hayes McCallagh.

Chadwick's progression at MAC, with Olde Georgetowne (where he still competes in the summer) and now at Charlotte Latin, where he swims for the school team, is starting to pay off.

Chadwick had a breakout season for Latin last year in his sophomore year, capping it with a state championship in the 400-yard freestyle relay with teammates Colin Higgins, Will Gardner and McCallagh. Chadwick also finished third in the 500-yard freestyle, fifth in the 100 breaststroke and second in the 200-individual medley relay.

Chadwick showed just how strong he has become at a New South meet in early December at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center, when he won both the 100 freestyle and 200 IM in a field that included some of the best swimmers in the Southeast.

As a result, Chadwick started to receive college interest from schools like UNC, N.C. State and Auburn.

While Chadwick's best stroke growing up was the breaststroke, he now also excels in the backstroke, freestyle and individual medley.

SwimMAC CEO and Director of Coaching David Marsh told Chadwick and his family that "Michael's versatility in the pool makes his potential unlimited at this point in his career."

While Chadwick's focus is with SwimMAC, he also is working hard for Hawks coach Patty Waldron, who has also been with SwimMAC for nearly 30 years.

Waldron hopes Chadwick can pair with McCallagh to lead Latin to a CISAA conference and NCISAA state championship in the next month.

So far this season, Chadwick has won every event with Latin, mainly the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke, 200 IM and 400 freestyle relay.

Chadwick hopes to continue that streak at the CISAA conference meet, after missing the league meet his freshman and sophomore years because of sickness.