On March 28 in Athens, Ga., Mike Schulte ’02 will represent the Yale men’s swimming team at the NCAA championships.

The stiff qualifying standards for the championship, which invites only the top 25 swimmers in the nation for each event, leads many to regard it as the most competitive collegiate meet in the world.

“Mike will do phenomenally well at the NCAAs, the fastest race in the world, because he gets up for big races and works well under pressure” captain Pat Dennis ’02 said, “It’s a great tribute to the team to have him, the hardest-working and most deserving, representing us.”

Schulte’s third-place time of 4:25.73 in the 500-meter freestyle and second-place time of 15:06.80 in the 1,650-meter freestyle at the Harvard-Yale-Princeton competition did more than just qualify him for the upcoming championship, but also catapulted him into the ranks of the top swimmers in the nation. Harvard’s John Cole, ranked 25th in the nation, is the sole Ivy League swimmer seeded above Schulte.

Schulte has also swum his way into the Bulldog record books. With his H-Y-P 1,650 meter time, he displaced Adam Vann’s ’95 decade-old time of 15:13.19. Last year, Schulte also set Yale’s 800 freestyle relay record with teammates Matt Bowman ’04, Greg Palumbo ’03 and George Gleason ’01.

“Mike came in freshman year with a four-year goal: to be at the NCAAs by senior year,” Dennis said. “His goals were evident to everyone and his achievement is a credit to his persistence.”

In preparation for the meet, Schulte has been tapering his practices to get enough rest. Accompanied by head coach Frank Keefe, Schulte leaves for Georgia today.

“I want to go early to get acclimated to the surroundings,” Schulte said.

On the women’s end, Yale had its strongest representation in years at the NCAA swimming and diving championships. Bates Gregory ’03 and Melanie Loftus ’05 were the first women divers to qualify in Eli history. Susan Cooke ’03 competed in the 200- and 400-meter medleys. Though none of the women made it to the finals, they savored the experience.

“I didn’t have a great meet, but I was just happy to be surrounded by Olympic champions,” said Gregory. “I was so star-struck.”

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