Kade Wist is 17-years-old but, contrary to Ray Bradbury’s quote, he is not “17 and crazy.” In fact, Wist exudes maturity beyond the levels of most upper-year university students. A freshman for the Redmen swimming team, Wist competes in both the butterfly and free-style. Between the two strokes, he’s already won seven gold medals in his first three RSEQ meets. He just started racing free-style about a year ago and is quick to explain that picking up the free is easy if you already swim the fly.
Wist, a Calgary native, is the youngest swimmer in the RSEQ. He doesn’t turn 18 until June—he skipped second grade—but being so far from home at a big school in a big city doesn’t faze him in the slightest.
“I have an apartment with a guy on the team,” Wist explained. “He’s a first year, but he’s from Quebec, so he’s 20. So [with me being 17], it balances it out.”
Apartment living isn’t without challenges though.
“We didn’t have bagged milk in Calgary!” Wist exclaimed. “I hate it so much. I always pour [milk] into my cereal and the bag just falls out!”
Albeit 17, Wist shrugs off his age as a minor issue. He’s too young to legally go to bars in Montreal, but the vibrancy of the city is part of what drew him to McGill. He says that spending time with his team is his favourite way to relax.
“The team is really good [about my age],” he said. “We joke about it and do things that I can be included in as well. There’s another 17-year-old on the team […] we get along so well. We just all hang out in the library.”
Wist credits the laid-back and inclusive nature of McGill’s swim team as what largely edged out UBC and the University of Calgary during his recruiting process. He also cites his mom, McGill Sports Hall of Famer and Canadian Olympian Andrea Nugent, as a huge influence in his life—especially when he first started swimming.
“Starting up, she had a really big influence,” Wist described. “In grade nine I decided to swim year-round and she was really supportive, but at the same time she doesn’t try to coach me at all.”
Even though Nugent was a McGill swimmer, she did not pressure Wist into picking McGill for his post-secondary career. Wist and his mother discussed gap years, the merits of different schools, and different swim programs. Ultimately, Wist explained, his mom took on the role of a conscientious mother in his decision process, as opposed to pressuring him to go to her alma mater. He smiled fondly when he remembers how his mom expected him to give a list of reasons why McGill was the right school and swimming program for him before she gave her blessing.
As for future plans, Wist is still fairly unsure. He remembers first seeing his mom’s Olympic medal.
“I want one of those one day,” he thought.
Wist enjoys his economics classes, so he thinks he’ll major in that. He might not know what he wants to do after McGill, but he has the next four years to think it through. Besides, Wist gives the impression that he’s firmly rooted in the present—enjoying his studies, Montreal, and just being one of the guys on the team.
McGill Tribune (MT): If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Kade Wist (KW): Probably Greece. I remember watching the movie Mamma Mia (laughs), and it’s just so beautiful.
MT: What was the last movie you saw?
KW: The Wolf of Wall Street. I loved it.
MT: Do you have any pets?
KW: I have a cat and a dog. The dog’s named Misty and the cat’s Coebo.
MT: Do you have a favourite?
KW: Definitely the cat. He’s just solid black so I always just thought that was really lucky.
MT: What’s the worst nickname someone’s given you?
KW: Probably “Baby Kade.” It started on my recruiting trip when [the swim team] figured out I was only 16 at the time, and they were like, “God, you’re so young!” And it stuck.
MT: What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
KW: Probably my favourite song, actually. It’s “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus.