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Maui Prep swimmer Mathew Iverson hoping to compete at Olympic Trials

By BY WALTER CHIHARA - | Mar 12, 2021

Mathew Iverson will compete against elite swimmers at the Spring Speedo Sectionals on March 19-21.

NAPILI — Sixteen-year-old Mathew Iverson continues the West Side’s sterling legacy of youth competitive swimmers to rise to prominence in the three decades since the Lahaina Aquatic Center opened in 1993.

Home to the Lahaina Swim Club, LSC has been the proving waters for elite aquatic athletes such as Jessica Nohara, Laura Pope, Jack Pope, Renny Richmond, Lexi Anderson, Jaden Yip and many more.

Iverson today represents the continuing wave of youthful scholar-athletes to reach local age group, state and national recognition under the guidance of veteran coach Tom Popdan.

“I have been coaching Mathew Iverson since he was seven years old,” said Coach Popdan last week.

“He has always been extremely dedicated, and even when COVID-19 closed the county pools, he was swimming in the ocean and backyard pools to train in. He has had tremendous success at every age group level and has become one of the most successful swimmers in the State of Hawaii. Now he moves on to the regional level and will compete against the best in the Western United States.”

That would be at the Spring Speedo Sectionals on March 19-21 at the Phoenix Country Day School and Dady Aquatic Center in Paradise Valley, Arizona. The competition is sanctioned under Arizona Swimming and USA Swimming Inc.

Iverson, a Maui Preparatory Academy sophomore, will compete in six events at the Sectionals in Arizona: the 100 and 200 Backstroke, 200 and 400 Individual Medley, and the 500 and 1,650 Freestyle.

He currently holds TWELVE Maui County Age Group records. In the 11-12 and 13-14 age groups, he has set the standard in the 200 and 400 IM, the mile and 500 Free, and the 100 and 200 Backstroke.

After the upcoming competition, Iverson has his sights set on the ultimate goal: the Olympic Trials.

“I hope to stay on track to do well in the Sectionals and then get a chance to swim at the Olympic Trials,” he said.

For now, he will continue to train in the ocean and at a nearby lap pool while maintaining his 3.8 grade point average (with emphasis on chemistry and technology) at Maui Prep.

He competes for the Pueo swim team and the varsity basketball and cross country programs.

Iverson already set school records in the 500 Free and 200 IM during his freshman year.

“Mathew Iverson is a unique and very talented swimmer that Maui Prep is fortunate to have on its team. He is a cornerstone to our current team, and before he is done, I foresee him owning the majority of the school records. Now a sophomore, he has remained focused and motivated to swimming. He has become a true inspiration for his teammates. I am looking forward to his success and team leadership in his next two years at Maui Prep,” said coach Michael “Tex” Ritter.

Young Iverson credits his parents, Steve and Gina Iverson, for the constant support they have provided — including getting him to practices at 5:30 a.m. or waiting in the rain while he worked out — and to his coaches, Popdan, Ritter and also Jen Wiseman, who recognized Mathew’s potential in his early years and prompted him to move up to the guidance of Coach Tom.

“He (Popdan) is a very good coach who has helped me before, during and after practices. He has helped me with my technique, intense training programs and good hard workouts. All of my coaches showed me that they really care about me, and I am very thankful to them all,” concluded Iverson.