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Maddie Has Got Pat’s Back…And Vice Versa

Maddie Musselman is aiming for her fifth world championship title (2015, 2017, 2019, and 2022) this week at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships. In July, she will take that intensity in search of her third Olympic gold medal (2016 and 2020) at the Paris Olympics with her American water polo teammates. The 25-year-old MVP from the Tokyo Olympics has the drive, the talent, and the teammates to go three-for-three in Paris.

But there is always something more than physical talent that is necessary to reach the pinnacle of success in any sport: the mindset, resilience, and mental fortitude.

Maddie has always shown those characteristics in abundance over the course of her career – but nothing like what she has had to utilize over the last several months.

In September 2023, she got married to fellow UCLA water polo player Patrick Woepse who has completed a 10 hour 28 minute English Channel crossing in 2023 and a 12 hour 53 minute Catalina Channel crossing in 2021.

Open water swimmers often say that their sport is 80% mental and 20% physical. Patrick is demonstrating that fact every single day.

As Patrick explains the run-up to his English Channel crossing, his resilience shows. “I was training for the English Channel. Right before I left, I just had this nagging cough. I ended up a doctor and did a chest x-ray out of an abundance of caution. Two days later, it was confirmed that I had a tumor…and then [they found] another tumor.’

He had a rare form of lung cancer at the age of 30. Right at the start of his marriage and young promising life.

I mean [cancer] is something you never think can happen [to you]. Then you get the confirming call…”

USA Water Polo head coach Adam Krikorian said of the newlyweds, “As I told [Maddie] in the beginning, we just gotta take this day by day, and week by week. It has been incredible to see [Maddie and Patrick] handle this. The strength they have shown has been awe-inspiring.”

Musselman took a step back from water polo. She took off a few weeks off from her Olympic training program as they navigated their next steps. In talks with their families and her teammates, everyone was supportive, but none like her husband. Patrick told his wife, “You are not stopping playing water polo…I love watching you play.

He reiterated, with a bald head as evidence of his recent cancer treatments, “It is my only goal right now to watch her in Paris and I am going to support her every step of the way.

Spoken like a true water polo player and channel swimmer. They give it their all, but they also give it their all for their teammates and fellow swimmers.

Onwards to Paris and beyond.

For a recap of their love story, watch Jay Cohen’s video for the Associated Press here and read their story here.

© 2024 Daily News of Open Water Swimming

to educate, enthuse, and entertain all those who venture beyond the shoreline

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