Fans and friends gather to watch Paige Madden’s Olympic debut


MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — UMS Wright graduate Paige Madden made her Olympic debut Sunday night finishing seventh in the 400-meter freestyle.

Mobile native Paige Madden hit the pool Sunday night in her first Olympic final. Hundreds of people gathered at the Springhill Swim Club to watch her debut. Although she didn’t take first place in the 400-meter freestyle, loved ones and fans were proud nonetheless.

Young swimmers with the club watching tonight were in awe too, one saying, “I’m not surprised. She’s really fast and really good, and I’m glad I have a good role model to look up to.”

Madden finished third in her semifinals this morning and had the seventh-fastest time to advance to the women’s 400-meter freestyle finals tonight in Toyko, but the road to get here wasn’t an easy one. It’s been a frustrating year for Madden. She had to have knee surgery, and just two months before the Olympic trials began, she tested positive for COVID-19. Tyler Kerns, one of Madden’s former coaches, said, “She’s probably the most dedicated and driven athlete I’ve ever seen, and as her former coach, it’s really exciting to get to see an athlete that did the work to get the reward she deserves.”

After recovering from both surgery and COVID-19, Madden took second in the 400-meter freestyle in the Olympic trials in Omaha, earning her spot on the US Olympic team. The 22-year-old swimmer has trained and worked hard to get to where she is — an Olympian. Those around her say they couldn’t be more proud.

Vicky Bedsole, another former coach, said, “Its amazing just to see her in the top eight. Not a lot of people can get to do that in their lifetime.

Madden isn’t done with Toyko just yet either, she will compete yet again in the 4 by 200 free relay on Wednesday.

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