By Mike Watkins//Contributor
Consistency and daily diligence were the name of the game for Michael McBroom during his competitive swimming days.
He wouldn’t have ever thought about skipping a practice or workout as he pursued his own version of athletic excellence and the Olympic dream.
Now, almost a year removed from his final race at the 2016 Olympic Swim Trials, McBroom accepts things are different – and it’s OK to relax and enjoy life a little more now even though he hasn’t officially moved on from the sport that’s been an integral part of his daily life since childhood.
“My post swimming life has been great; I finally have more time to do some things that I enjoy doing, and I can finally skip a day of working out if I choose to,” he said. “Technically, I haven’t retired, but I will be filing my papers soon. I have no intention to return to swimming, and I am very glad to be done.”
McBroom, who relocated from Austin to El Paso, Texas, with wife, Becca, last November to be closer to her family, said he had known for years that he would be done in 2016 no matter what happened.
He recently started a job in commercial real estate as an associate in sales and leasing with Sonny Brown Associates – the next phase of his life he’s been excited about for a long time.
In addition to job and family, McBroom said he’s always looking forward to having the time to take real vacations and not limit himself from doing things that he previously would have due to not missing practice or competition.
“I had been interested in commercial real estate for about 4 or 5 years,” he said. “Right now my primary focus is sales and leasing of commercial space – office, retail, industrial, etc. There are many aspects to each part, but mainly we lease or sell space to businesses or investors.
“One of my favorite things I am doing right now is working closely with a developer on two new retail and office sites we are currently building. It is a lot of fun watching all of the work from engineers, architects, designers, lawyers, the city, and our developers to create these village retail centers for us to lease. Everything has to come together the right way to create the space that we desire to give to the community.”
While his last race at Olympic Trials proved to be quite disappointing – he finished third in the 1500 freestyle and just missed making the team – considering all the time and years he had put into making it a reality, McBroom said he didn’t dwell on it for very long.
Instead, he chose to focus on what was coming next – life outside of the sport he learned to enjoy through hard work and perseverance.
“I obviously have the memories of failure at that meet, but also a summation of the great friends that I made along the way,” said McBroom, who completed his collegiate eligibility from the University of Texas in 2013. “Life goes on. I have great family and friends and it was not a big deal for me to move on because there is more to life.
“The support that I got from people after the meet was amazing. I have to thank Jack Roach for always being so supportive as well as my coaches and many friends along the way. And my family has always been so supportive; that meant a lot to my professional career and keeping me going as long as I did.”
Considering that McBroom never envisioned himself as a future star in swimming makes his journey to becoming a World Championship silver medalist and Olympic contender all the more improbable.
Growing up in Minnesota, he wanted to be a hockey star or a lawyer. But that all changed during a meeting with his former coach and friend, Tim Bauer, when he was 15.
“He told me that I should have my eyes set on making Olympic Trials and then making finals at the meet,” he said. “At the time, I thought he was a real jokester, because I didn’t even have a Trials cut yet.
“However, he got me thinking and believing in myself and shortly thereafter I got my first Olympic Trials cut and from then on it was what I wanted to do.”
In addition to winning silver in the 800 free at 2013 World Championships, he enjoyed a successful career that included gold in the 1500 free at 2015 Winter Nationals and multiple NCAA All-America honors.
And while he admits it was tough to maintain that level of excellence after 2013 Worlds – he never achieved those same results again in his career – McBroom said he was never motivated by the medals and honors.
There are many other things that have stood out to him during his storied career.
“Everything stands out – the experience, the travel, the friendships,” he said. “That’s what I will truly value when I look back on that chapter in my life: the comradery. When I think of an accomplishment in the sport, it is the silver at Worlds, but when I look back at that particular time in my life, it is the experiences and comradery.
“Swimming gave me so much that I can never repay. I never dreamed it could take me as far as it did. From life lessons like hard work and keeping me in shape to travel, friendships and a wonderful wife, I have gained more than I ever deserved.”