At a glance, UCLA rower Tim Maytom wouldn’t appear to be a member of the athletic elite.
Listed at only 6 feet, 1 inch and 185 pounds, he is considered small compared to the rest of his teammates. And as the resident quiet guy, known as a man of few words, Maytom is far from the most assertive member of the team.
What can’t be seen in that same glance, however, is the dedication and focus that goes into Maytom’s performance, allowing him to quietly secure his spot on the men’s national team for this summer’s World University Games taking place in Gwangju, South Korea.
“(Maytom) is the kind of guy that leads by example,” said UCLA men’s rowing coach Scott Charette. “Not super vocal, but definitely the hardest working guy on the team.”
Making a national team is a feat Maytom has been working towards since he joined the club rowing program as a freshman. The now-UCLA alumnus, who graduated this year with a degree in economics, rowed in the varsity boat in all four years of his college career.
“(Maytom) was our program’s model for excellence, period,” said UCLA men’s rowing club president Kyle Knoll. “He is the fittest athlete on the team, has an expert technical knowledge of the sport and has a devotion to the sport that is otherworldly. Everyone in the program knew they were going to have a good row when they saw that (Maytom) was going to be in their boat that day.”
This past May, Maytom and the UCLA varsity coxed four boat garnered silver at the 2015 American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships.
Although men’s rowing is only recognized as a club sport, Maytom prepared himself to compete with the top rowers from across the country. After his junior year, he was a member of USRowing’s Senior eight boat that placed fourth at the 2014 Club Nationals. The next year, he raced in the men’s varsity coxed four at the USRowing U23 World Championship trials.
During his first two years at UCLA, Maytom also trained with with Jeffrey Latham. Latham, a rower who graduated two years earlier than Maytom, was selected for the U.S. team for the World University Games in 2013.
Charette said that Latham’s success served as inspiration for Maytom.
“Part of (Maytom) wanting to apply was following in (Latham’s) footsteps,” Charette said. “For him to come from a club sport and still be able to take it to the next level meant a lot.”
For both Latham and Maytom, getting to the next level meant competing for a spot against the nation’s best in college crew. The national team is comprised of 19 men representing 13 universities, including powerhouse schools like Michigan and Drexel.
However, Gregg Hartsuff, the U.S. coach for the World University Games and the University of Michigan men’s rowing head coach, was unfazed by which school Maytom attended. Instead, he said he was impressed by the young athlete’s strength-to-weight ratio, which increased the power of his drive.
After being chosen, Maytom headed to Ann Arbor, Mich., where the team trained during the month of June before leaving for South Korea. Maytom again emerged as a silent leader, becoming one of the team’s top competitors.
“He has naturally evolved into, in my opinion, the best bowman,” Hartsuff said. “He keeps his composure in a role that is hard to manage because you are trying to match the rhythm that is being set while still working on steering. He is the best guy in the group to steer.”
Maytom’s success during the month-long training session afforded him a spot as a starboard in the U.S.’ heavyweight four. Hartsuff said he considers this to be one of the toughest events at the games. Most countries make this their top priority, stacking their four best athletes in the same boat.
With this being his first time competing on the international stage, Hartsuff said there are sure to be nerves for Maytom as well as for many of his teammates.
However, even with the nerves, Charette said he knows his former rower has the ability to accomplish even the greatest of challenges because of his dedication to being the best.
“He is an average guy, but he is doing incredible things because he is so focused and so disciplined,” Charette said.
With contributing reports by Tanner Walters, Bruin Sports senior staff.