Clément Secchi, U4 Management, has spent much of his life in the pool. The fourth-year swimmer was named both McGill and RSEQ Athlete of the Week multiple times this year, and recently won six gold medals at the RSEQ Championships, including ones for the 4x50m relay, the 200m butterfly, and the 50m butterfly—setting team and RSEQ records for all three. Secchi was also named Athlete of the Meet at the Championships as well as RSEQ Athlete of the Year.
While clearly a dominant force in the pool, Secchi explained that dedication and hard work allowed him to reach the level he is at today.
“I am proud of never giving up and I’ve kept training hard and getting faster and faster,” he said in an interview with the Tribune. “I wasn’t very fast when I was younger, so […] to be where I am at today, it is nice to see where I [came] from.”
The star swimmer explained that he does not have professional role models, but rather looks up to those who are closer to home.
“My biggest inspiration is probably my parents,” he said. “My parents [motivate me] with their work ethic. They are really hard workers. And if you work hard, after you can play hard.”
Growing up in France, Secchi tried his hand at multiple sports before zeroing in on swimming as his favourite.
“I was playing soccer and tennis and doing swimming at the same time when I was young, but after a few years, I had to make a choice between the sports and I decided to stick to swimming,” Secchi said. “I liked the teammates I had and the pool was also really close to where I was living so it was really practical. I always loved being in the water. I spend most of my summers in the water.”
He joined his hometown club in Aix-en-Provence, staying there until his second year at McGill—the year that the COVID-19 pandemic hit. While spending his third year in France during the pandemic, he moved up to the largest swimming club in France, Cercle des Nageurs Marseilles, a professional team that produces Olympic-level swimmers.
Secchi explained that the Marseille facility, starkly different from McGill’s Memorial Pool, is his favourite place to swim.
“The best place to train is definitely in Marseille,” he said. “The complex is on the beach so when you are done training you can walk 20 stairs and then you’re in the sea. So it’s pretty amazing, different from the McGill pool for sure.”
While Secchi may enjoy the pool in Marseille more, the swimmer explained that he really loves his McGill teammates and appreciates the support they provide each other.
“It’s about having a really good atmosphere and everybody working towards the same goals and everybody working hard,” Secchi said. “I like the work ethic at McGill, everybody works hard and supports each other trying to be the best every day.”
A supportive network is crucial, especially considering how much training they do. Secchi trains two to three times a day most days of the week, and at least once every day, except on Sundays. McGill swim team training consists of both swimming practices and lifting sessions twice a week.
Secchi emphasized that with such a busy schedule, staying organized and using his time efficiently is crucial. Even with a timetable like his, he makes sure to put aside time to take a nap every day.
“You get better at [the balance] as you get used to it,” he said. “I am so much more on top of schoolwork and swimming in my last year than in my first year. But, it is really about setting priorities and also being efficient.”
As his time at McGill comes to an end, Secchi looks forward to the future and hopes to obtain a master’s degree in the United States while spending his final year of eligibility competing in the NCAA. In the immediate future, however, you can catch Secchi competing in the U Sports Championships on March 23.