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5 Minutes with Paige Mckenna, UW

5 Minutes with Paige Mckenna, UW

Nov 02, 2023

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In honor of our new Custom Shop launch, we sat down with Paige Mckenna - UW grad, NCAA title holder and mental health advocate. She is the definition of an inspiration and continues to work hard to better herself and her community. 
Learn more about her college career, swimming, advocacy work, and her custom 14k Gold Kyle Cavan piece!

Why did you choose what you did on your custom piece? Can you walk us through each one?

For my custom piece, I wanted to choose things that were really important in my life that I could carry around everywhere I go.
My cat Tiger Henry was the first thing I wanted to put on there. He was my first cat and truly brought such happiness in my life. Unfortunately, he passed away, so having his picture to look at daily gives me a lot of comfort.
For my next addition, I wanted to incorporate college and swimming. Swimming has been a huge part of my life and led me to The University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Motion W, my graduation year, and the pool all commemorate the best years of my life.
Finally, I put the state of Pennsylvania. Although I was born in New York, the majority of my life I’ve lived in Pennsylvania. When I look at the state on my necklace I am reminded of home and my family. Everything I do is for my family, and I strive to make them proud every day.

We’d love to know more about your time as a Badger! Are there any defining moments or special memories you have on the team?

My time as a badger has been nothing short of special. Going into college I honestly didn’t know what to expect and I can’t deny that I struggled a bit my freshman year. This team is like a family to me and I’m so grateful for them. Not only that but Wisconsin has brought me some of my best friends that I know I will be with forever.
I would say one defining moment for me during my time as a badger would be during my freshman year at the 2022 NCAA Championships. What made it special was not winning an NCAA Title but the people that helped me get there. Alivia Lindorfer, Elle Braun, Emily Ecker and I were the four main distance freestylers that year, and I don’t think I can ever thank them enough for pushing me all year.

As a national champion, do you have any advice for younger swimmers?

I would say that you make sure you love what you do. There have definitely been times where I’ve wanted to quit but I just remember that there are always going to be hard times but then you are going to be met with goals you’ve been wanting to achieve. If you are truly having fun, then those rough patches are going to be easier to get through.

We’ve seen the advocacy work you’ve done around health care and mental health, is this something you see yourself going into and continuing in the long run?

I definitely want to continue advocating for mental health. By sharing my story, I hope to help people know they are not alone, but in a way, it helps me. The responses I get are truly inspiring and help me know I am doing something to help others. With that being said I want to enter a job in the health field. I’m not exactly sure what yet, but I want to continue to help the community in any way I can.

What is your favorite food or restaurant to eat in Madison?

My favorite restaurant has to be Vintage. It’s such a cute little place where my friends and I will go. I love sitting on the outside patio and crochet while eating some really good cheese curds.

See more of Paige's athletic career, fashion sense, and advocacy work on her IG @paigemckennaaaa.


And get started on your own one-of-a-kind piece on The Custom Shop!