Q&A with Cam McEvoy


Now that you’re done with school for the time being, what will you do instead with your free time?

I don’t know actually. That’s something I haven’t thought about. I’ve really only set my vision to Rio and post-Rio. I’ve always just had in the back of my mind that future gamble will figure that out. I will definitely be studying some things that I find interesting myself. And then I’ve been doing research with a professor at the University since the start of last summer.

You were invited to be an advisory board member. What’s that about?

Over the next few years [the Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing] will be offering 50 Ph.D. positions for people to come along and complete their Ph.D.’s in the program on that topic in that field of physics. And what I’ve been asked to do is that, because I am studying physics, I have a media platform in Australia and also because when I went to the Olympic Trials I had a gravitational wave detection signal on my racing cap and they saw that and they really loved that. I’ll go with them to some schools around Australia and pretty much not only talk about my swimming and myself but promote science and basically have the end result bridge the gap between science and the general population. 

So is the message then, to everyone in Australia that science is cool?

Yeah definitely! I just remember going up the later part of high school there was a huge stigma behind science and even mathematics as well. And it was almost cool to not be good at them or cool not to put any effort into them. All you have to do is be told one, two or three different random facts and it just makes your mind go, “how is the universe like this?” It just makes you think and it sort of turns your whole world upside down.

You may have just sold me on physics.

I guess an analogy could be that say that as a swimmer that same passion and that same fire that burns happens whenever I get up on the blocks and do a best time in any of my races that I focus on. It’s almost like every time I learn something that surprises me in physics, math or anything about the universe, that’s equivalent to feeling I get when I get up on the blocks and do a best time.

Can you tell me about a time that you had a perfect race?

I definitely never had a perfect race. I’ve had near-perfect races for sure. I think the race that I’ve gotten closest to being perfect would be the 100m freestyle at the Olympic Trials [editor’s note: Australia’s Olympic Trials were in April]. But even so, when I touched the wall I knew that I had done it almost nearly perfectly. But then later on when I sat down and watched the underwater footage of my race and got the above water footage and the race analysis back from the sport scientists, there were so many areas that I picked up on where I could have made little improvements. I think the perfect race probably won’t ever happen. Like there’s no reason it shouldn’t. Thinking in probability, say everything happened to go right, especially for sprinting there are so many little things that add up to make a difference in the race. To get every single one of those little things right, the probability just diminishes to a very small amount. So that’s my analytical side thinking about the probability.

Michael Phelps called that Trials race “insane” and said, even though you might be a little dude, you can really haul. Did you hear that he said that?

I didn’t hear that. That’s the first time I’m hearing this. That’s really cool!

Did you overlap with Phelps? What’s it like to race him?

I’ve raced him twice actually, both at the Pan Pacs in 2014. One of them was the 4x200m freestyle [relay], which I think was after one of my other races I can’t exactly remember which one. But I raced him and he beat me by I think a body length back then! And in the 100m freestyle I got to race him. That is probably one of my favorite races I’ve ever done. Not only because Michael was there but I was next to James [Magnussen] and Nathan Adrian was in there and there were a few Brazilian sprinters that were really well known there too. I loved being in that race and I think I worked out at the time there was like a collective amount of 28 Olympic medals in that one final – very vastly spread out between three or four lanes but still it’s pretty cool to think about that. That’s up there with one of my favorites I’ve ever done.