Water polo teen swims in dad’s wake

Chlorine runs in Maxwell Macmillan’s veins.

His father, Allan, played for Canada’s national water polo team in the 1990s.

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On June 29, Maxwell will pull on a water polo cap for his country at the U-17 Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru.

It will be the younger Macmillan’s first dip in international competition. But it’s already whetting his desire to become a Canadian Olympian.

Maxwell said he’s never felt any pressure to swim in his dad’s wake, but when he first tossed a water polo ball five years ago after swimming competitively with the Port Moody Aquarians, he knew he’d found his sport.

“It felt like the pool is where I belong,” said Maxwell, 15.

Since then he’s taken to the sport like, well, a fish to water. He’s one of the leading scorers in the National Championship League, the top rung of competitive club water polo in Canada, where he’s a “driver” for the Pacific Storm. He’s won medals at the Western and Canadian championships for U-14s and U-16s and he won silver at nationals playing with a U-19 team.

It’s a wave of success that’s made him one of the younger players on the U-17 team that will compete in Peru.

Maxwell said he expects to learn a lot. 

“I’ll see what international-level water polo is like,” he said. “I’m not nervous. I can definitely hold my own.”

And in the water polo pool, “holding your own” means not drowning as opposing players do everything they can underwater - out of view of the referees - to throw you off your game, said Maxwell.

“You have to be aware what’s going on around you. Almost anything goes underwater.”

Water polo is a gruelling, rough and tumble sport, said Maxwell, that tests fitness and stealth.

“You’ve got to be really sneaky,” he said.

But there’s no other sport he’d rather be playing.

“This is just the starting point of my water polo career,” said Maxwell.

Maxwell’s family is hosting a burger and beer fundraiser on Saturday, June 17, to help defray some of the costs of getting him to Peru. The event goes from 6-9 p.m. at the Townhall Public House, 925 Brunette Ave., in Coquitlam. Donations can be made online at www.paypal.me/PanAmPoloPeru

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