Brendan McHugh officially traded his training briefs for legal briefs in the fall of 2016, but he doesn’t like to use the word “retired.”
The New Jersey native, high school state champion and former University of Pennsylvania team captain deferred his law job in Philadelphia until after the Rio Olympics.
“It took a little bit of negotiating, but they agreed,” McHugh reports. “They were receptive, but it was a new concept for them. Most people aren’t training for the Olympics in law school.”
Last summer, he clerked for the firm while training doubles.
From Monday to Friday, I lived with my brother, who also swims for Penn. Every morning, I’d swim from 6 to 8 a.m., then put on my suit and walk to work, get there by 8:30, work until 6 p.m. and go back to Penn and swim again. On Friday night, I drove home to my mom’s and went to my club team’s practice on Saturday mornings. Then on Sunday, I’d drive back to Philly and do it all over again.
It paid off. The breaststroke specialist broke through last year, winning the 50 at Summer Nationals. That earned him a spot on the National Team and a trip to the 2015 World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
“I didn’t get fast the conventional way,” he points out, noting that he didn’t really do anything “miraculous” until his sophomore year of high school, when he won his first state title. He lost his father the previous summer and threw himself into swimming as a coping mechanism.
“A lot of my success is because I find a way to do what needs to get done,” he says. It’s like Nike says: ‘Just do it.’”
Brendan imparts his love for swimming and dedication to teaching perfect technique on those who attend his Fitter and Faster clinics.