Upper St. Clair’s Joshua Matheny makes U.S. national team in breaststroke

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Monday, September 9, 2019 | 7:42 PM


Upper St. Clair junior Joshua Matheny has soared to the top of the national swimming ranks on the heels of an impressive international performance.

Matheny, 16, was named to the 2019-20 USA Swimming National Team.

Matheny earned a gold medal and set a meet record in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke at the FINA World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary in August. His time of 2 minutes, 9.40 seconds ranks him among the nation’s top six swimmers in the event.

“I realized when I went (2:09.40) that I had qualified to be on the team,” Matheny said.

Matheny, the 2018 U.S. junior national champion in the 100 breaststroke, was among 115 men and women and 60 men selected. He is one of 24 first-time national team members and one of 12 who moved up to the senior team from the 2018-19 national junior team.

Benefits offered to national team members include travel to USA Swimming TYR Pro Swim Series meets and training camp opportunities, both of which Matheny said he plans to pursue.

David Schraven, Matheny’s coach with Team Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics and Upper St. Clair and a Team USA assistant at junior worlds, said making the team gives Matheny a psychological boost.

Schraven said it is unusual for someone Matheny’s age to make it, especially as a breaststroke competitor.

“They tend to hit their prime a little later,” Schraven said.

Schraven said Matheny is a long shot to qualify for next year’s U.S. Olympic Team.

“We’re pretty grounded,” Schraven said. “Swimming is a grind. (We do not) have any illusions.”

Matheny said he is enjoying the ride.

“I think the pressure comes later,” he said.

Matheny also shines in the classroom. He was named to the 2018-19 USA Swimming Scholastic All America Team for maintaining a minimum 3.5 grade-point average during the application year, while meeting the 2018 Winter Junior time standards in the pool. It was the second year he was honored.

Matheny was one of two southern Allegheny County products to make the national team.

Oakland Catholic graduate Leah Smith, who grew up in Mt. Lebanon and earned two medals at the 2016 Olympics, was named to the women’s roster in three events: 200, 400 and 800 freestyle.

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