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UK native heads across Atlantic to break BU records

Name: Chris McGuire
Degree: BA in economics
Plans: Find employment at a financial company within the United States.

Chris McGuire won’t lie. He openly admits that he came to Binghamton University primarily for its swim program.
But for the native of Essex, England, it was Binghamton’s mix of a new Division I swim program and a chance to receive an education at a premier academic institution that finally convinced him to leave Europe and head across the Atlantic for what would become an opportunity to break several of BU swim records.

“My aunt (who lives in Rockland County) told me that Binghamton is a good academic school,” said McGuire, an economics major. “I soon realized that it would be a great place to combine good academics and a chance to swim Division I.”

A top athlete in Great Britain and for England’s juniors’ swim program and among the top seven finishing in the United Kingdom’s 2000 Olympic trials, McGuire began swimming at age 5. He eventually became one of the country’s best under-17 swimmers and regularly competed against top athletes from Germany, Italy and Sweden.

But England offers no collegiate athletic programs. McGuire knew that to compete while receiving an education, he would have to leave his supportive family and attend school in the United States.
“It is so hard when you are an athlete in England and want to go to school because there is no way of getting any scholarships or financial aid towards it,” McGuire said. He soon hired a company to send his academic information to schools in the United States.

But McGuire said he was picky — many of the colleges and universities didn’t meet his requirements. “I wanted Division I,” he said. “The coach at Binghamton made the school and program seem like they were moving forward and they have significantly since I first came here.”

Binghamton has never regretted McGuire’s decision either. Despite the butterfly being his specialty, McGuire has become a diversified swimmer, breaking BU’s team and pool records in the 100-, 200- and 500-meter freestyle, 100- and 200-meter butterfly, 200- and 400-meter individual medley, and the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke, as well as in several relays.
“Chris rarely lost a meet over his four-year career at Binghamton and never gave up during a race,” said swim coach Patrice Back. McGuire has also been named Binghamton Athlete of the Year twice, ECAC Swimmer of the Meet, and he was voted MVP by his teammates four times, serving as team captain last season.

“He cares for and supports everyone on his team,” Back said. “Chris has been our most talented athlete for four years and has gracefully and happily handled the pressure of being expected to win every time he stands on the blocks to race. He has been a landmark contributor in taking the swim team and the school to the Division I level.”

“My initial idea was that I would come to Binghamton for a couple of years so I could get a feel for the schools over here and then possibly transfer my sophomore year,” said McGuire, who has also served as part of PEER:Pride and worked for the University’s summer swimming camps. “But because of the people that I have met and the team that I am a part of, I really wanted to stay.”

As an international student, one of the biggest challenges he faced was adapting to a new educational system. “In England, we don’t have as many multiple choice or standardized tests,” he said. “This is sort of a new experience. There are different things about getting used to the educational system and teaching styles.”

Now, McGuire plans to work in the United States in the financial industry — hopefully finding the right employer who will sponsor him for a working visa. “I am not sure what I want to do with my life yet other than work in the financial field,” he said. “But I do know that I want to remain in America.”

Although he is not ruling out ever competing at the master’s swim level, McGuire plans to take a short break from competitive swimming. “I have been swimming my entire life,” he said. But, still, he has ruled out ever competing in the Olympic trials again. “That ship has sailed.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08