Profile: Skyline’s Evan McKelvey takes swimming and his leadership role seriously

By Terry Jacoby/

Evan McKelvey says the difference between getting ready for this current swimming season compared to last year is “drastic.”

“Given our late start and shortened season, we have had to jump right into the action,” says McKelvey. “There has been no time to settle in nicely and coast into the season, but I believe our team has handled this newfound situation gracefully.”

McKelvey, 17, is a standout swimmer for the standout Skyline swimming and diving team. The Eagles have plenty of talent up and down the pool and anything short of a great season would be a “drastic” surprise.

“The main strength of our team is its internal camaraderie,” says McKelvey. “The bond that each of us has with one another is what glues our team together. Through this bond, we can push not only ourselves, but the people around us to accomplish our goals.”

The junior has been accomplishing his goals ever since he first jumped into the pool at Skyline. As a freshman, his main events were the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles. In the 50 free, he was on the Eagles’ 200 freestyle relay team that ended up placing 14th at the State Finals. He also placed 10th in the 100 free and 16th in the 200 free – as a freshman.

Last year as a sophomore, McKelvey qualified for the State Finals in the 50 and 100 free, where he placed sixth and fifth respectively at the SEC league meet. Of course, there were no State Finals because of the pandemic.

“As I was heading into states last year, I was confident and prepared, and I believed that the team and I were going to swim our hearts out,” he says. “Upon the news of the meet getting cancelled, I was taken aback – it was only the day before the meet that the announcement came out. I was disappointed that our season had to end the way it did, but I was thankful for the time I got to spend with my teammates and the experiences gained from the season.”

Not only is McKelvey one of the top swimmers for the Eagles but he’s also a team leader. “My main goal for this season is simply be the best captain that I can be,” he says. “Given the volatility of the season, I feel that being the best captain I can be is the most important goal I can set for myself.”

He does have some swimming goals. Possible time goals for this season are to swim under a 1:42.00 in the 200 free; swim under a 46.00 in the 100 free, and swim under a 21.40 in the 50 free. “To accomplish these goals, I must continue to work on my underwaters coming off of my walls, increase my endurance, and strengthen my mental toughness,” he says.

The Eagles’ team goals include having at least 10 swimmers reach state cuts, have every member of the team receive a varsity letter, and most importantly, have every member of the team win one of the prestigious “Backstreet Boy of the Week” awards.

“To succeed in these team goals, we need to focus not on the individual swimmer, but the whole team,” says McKelvey, sounding very much like an excellent captain. “The bond and camaraderie that we hold with each other will be the most integral part of our team’s success.”

And speaking of sounding like a captain, McKelvey likes to quote the great Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler Jr., “The Team, The Team, The Team,” when asked about what it means to be a captain of the Skyline Eagles.

“To explain, the team comes before the individual, the team is the most integral part of success, and the team is what truly matters in the grand scheme of things,” McKelvey says. “That is what being a captain means to me.

“Personally, I am a vocal leader, and I focus on the little things. For example, I greet every single one of my teammates as they walk in for practice; even a simple “what’s up.” For me, the “little” things are extremely important to my style of leadership, and I try to create a sense that everyone is on our team because they are.”

McKelvey has been swimming on Club Wolverine for over three years. He says Club Wolverine has been “extremely important to my success because of their amazing coaching staff and the competition that I face there.” He adds that friends who are at different high schools swim on the team which makes it fun and a challenge.

Evan, the son of John and Nicole McKelvey, is swimming along just fine in the classroom as well. He has a 3.98 GPA. He’s also the captain of Skyline’s water polo team and also plays for Wolverine Water Polo.

He is a co-president of Ann Arbor High School Democrats, a member of NHS, and a link crew leader. He enjoys mountain biking, reading and solving puzzles.

One puzzle he hasn’t solved is what college he wants to go to – but there is plenty of time to put those pieces together.

“My college plans are still a bit up in the air, but I would like to swim in college,” he says. “However, academics do come first for me in terms of choosing a potential school. I am looking for a strong academic focus, and not in the general area, as I want to branch out a bit.”

Right now, he’s focusing on school and “The Team, The Team, The Team.”

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