Mike McWha is arguably the best swimmer to ever emerge from Windsor and Essex County. Although he was born with great swimming genes, McWha’s unprecedented success at the collegiate and international levels owes itself to his unbending dedication and commitment to the pool.
Patricia McWha, Mike’s mother, had been a dominant high school athlete at W. F. Herman in the early 1960s. Predictably, she particularly excelled in the swimming pool, where she set several individual local records that stood for many years. Few were surprised when her son began showing similar promise in the aquatic arena at an early age.
By his teenage years, McWha was a key component of Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame member Dave Pells’ dynastic Kennedy swim teams. McWha helped the Clippers to multiple WECSSA and OFSSA titles while simultaneously starring for the Windsor Aquatic Club outside of school.
After graduating from Kennedy, McWha accepted a full swimming scholarship to the University of Michigan. In Ann Arbor, he became a key contributor to two Big Ten Championship teams and was an Honourable Mention All-American on three occasions. In his senior year, McWha was named the Wolverines’ team captain. During his spell with Michigan, McWha maintained his affiliation with the Windsor Aquatic Club.
On the international circuit, McWha swam for the Canadian national team from 1995 to 2001. During this time, he represented his country at the Pan Pacific Championships in Japan, the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, and, in his crowning achievement in the sport, the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. McWha won seven national titles over this time and set a Canadian record in the 1,500-metre freestyle.
At the time of his induction, McWha worked with aspiring competitive swimmers as part of the coaching staff at the Markham Swim Club. He continues to address his work with the same drive and determination that brought him so much success as a competitive swimmer, and he hopes to develop some of Canada’s next aquatic Olympians.