Swimming pool, UW-Madison special places for McGann

Bridget McGann, seated center, signs a letter of intent to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison be a member of its swimming team next fall. Also seated are her parents, Patrick and Kimberly McGann, while standing, left to right, are her brother, Liam, her grandfather, Mike Hall, and her swim club coach, Todd Capen. (Reporter photo)

MHS senior heading north to join Badger swim team

MENDOTA – When Bridget McGann jumped into a swimming pool for the first time at the age of 6, she knew it was a special place.

Fast forward 11 years.

When Bridget McGann stepped on the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Madison on a recruiting trip to be a collegiate swimmer, she got that same feeling she had back when she was a little girl. UW-Madison was a special place, and she knew right then that she wanted to spend her next four years as a Badger.

The Mendota High School senior made it official on Nov. 8 when she signed a letter of intent for a full-ride scholarship to be a member of the UW-Madison swimming team beginning in the fall of 2024.

“It felt right to where it was more than just the swim team that attracted me to Wisconsin,” McGann said. “It felt like I would have a home for the next four years and for the rest of my life. The campus is so beautiful and the student atmosphere is incredible.”

Since Mendota High School doesn’t have a swimming team, McGann had to reach outside of the community where she could pursue her passion for the pool. She did that by becoming a member of the Academy Bullets Swim Club at Marmion Academy in Aurora. Her specialties are breaststroke and individual medley, and she admitted that breaststroke is one of the harder strokes to master.

“The breaststroke is very heavy into technique, so if your technique is off, things can get pretty whacky,” McGann said.

One person that has helped her hone that technique is Todd Capen, her club coach. He saw something special in McGann from the first time he began coaching her.

“She is proof that hard work pays off,” Capen said. “Bridget is going to do the things that others aren’t going to do to make her achieve her success.

“Some kids don’t do the things they need to do to help them succeed. Bridget is not one of them. She puts in the time and the effort to make herself the best that she can be and it’s gotten her a scholarship as a Division I swimmer.”

McGann was also attracted to Wisconsin for its academics where she will major in kinesiology and minor in psychology with the goal of being a sports psychologist.

“Sports psychology doesn’t get enough attention and I hope I can break the stigma at Wisconsin to show how important it is for sports and the public in general,” she said.

Jumping into the swimming pool at age 6 also started the Olympic dream for McGann, and she still has that aspiration today.

“I’m going to go to Wisconsin and support the Badgers, and then on my own I’m going to pursue my Olympic dream,” McGann said. “Then after that, I hope to help as many people as I can through sports psychology.”

McGann, who initially thought a warm-weather college would be her destination, had offers from Auburn University in Alabama, as well as Missouri and other Big Ten schools Minnesota and Indiana.

But staying close to home was also important to her, and UW-Madison won out over all the rest.