Radnor swimmer Julia Cullen is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week

The Radnor junior swimmer, who now trains with Dick Shoulberg, has never lost an individual race in her Red Raider career. She was a Top 8 Finalist at the PIAA state championships as a sophomore, and finished third in the 100 fly at States as a freshman. She was an All-Central League swimmer the past two years, is the Radnor girls’ record-holder in the 100 fly, 100 free, 200 medley relay and 400 free relay and was a 2015 All-American in the 100 fly. She is also a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American and a member of the National Honor Society.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American?

A: It means a lot to me to be a Scholastic All- American because I take a lot of pride in my grades. The Radnor administration has been so wonderful.  Every year they work with me to put a great schedule together that not only supports my training, but maximizes my academic schedule.  I like to think that I have good time management because I always get my schoolwork done before I’m in bed at 9 p.m.

Q: What was your most vivid memory at States last winter – can you share it with us?

A: The most vivid memory of States last year was definitely my 100 free. I had a tough first day in the 100 fly and was really disappointed with my time. Since I wasn’t swimming as fast as I hoped, I didn’t think my 100 free would go well. I ended up qualifying for finals and came out of the meet with a best time. I was so happy and excited that I dropped time!

Q: What was the key to your success at States the last two years?

A: I am very focused about my training, and have big goals that keep me motivated to work hard every day.  I honestly think the key to my success at States the last two years was being around my teammates that kept me laughing and staying relaxed.


Q: What (in your opinion) has been your best swim this season to date, and why?

A: I don’t think I have one race that has stood out as my best this year so far.  However, this season I’m happy with the consistency of my times and the fact that my times are faster now then they were this time last year without resting.

Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?

A: On the days that I swim doubles, I practice for an hour and a half before school, then again for 2 hours and 15 minutes after school, followed by 30-40 minutes of dryland.

Q: You are the team record holder in the 200 medley relay, 100 fly, 100 free and 400 free relay. Do you consider the 100 fly your best event? What is the key(s) to your success in the 100 fly and 100 free?

A: Yes, I definitely consider my best, and favorite, event to be 100 fly. I love butterfly, and it’s always been my best stroke since I started competitive swimming.  I think the key to my success in all my events is the amount of time and hard work I put into my training every day.


Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?

A: Last year I switched swim clubs to train with Dick Shoulberg. I think this switch has really improved the back half of my races because I have more endurance to finish my races stronger.

Q: What pool did you first swim for? What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?

A: I first started swimming at Radnor Aquatic Club under Mike Robinson. I can definitely say, out of all the pools I’ve been to, Radnor’s pool will always be one of my favorites because of all the great memories I have there. We host the Central League Championships, and the fact that it is at Radnor makes it so special for me.

Q: Who have been your biggest swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?

A: My biggest swimming mentors would definitely be my coaches. Dick Shoulberg is an unbelievable coach and words cannot express how much he has taught me. He is constantly pushing me to be the best person I can be in and out of the pool. He has produced countless world class swimmers and has taught me that I control my own destiny. Other coaches who I’ve learned a lot from are Tom Robinson, Mike Robinson, Charlie Kennedy, Garrett Clark and Billy Gordon.

Q: What (to you) has been the highlight of your swimming career outside of Radnor?

A: When I was 13 I qualified for my first NCSA Junior National’s in the 100 fly. I went to this meet with my dad in Orlando, Fla., and it was one of the best experiences of my life.  At the time, it was the first national level meet I had been to, and I was in awe watching some of the fastest swimmers in the country compete!  Later that year I was selected to the US Swimming Zone Select Camp, and won the 100 fly in the Eastern Zone Championship.  The NCSA meet definitely helped push me to achieve these milestones.

Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Radnor? What sparked your interest in these activities?

A: I am a member of Radnor’s “Speak Up,” Student Ambassadors, Best Buddies, Young Republicans, and National Honor Society. Although swimming plays a huge role in my life, I think it’s important for me to be well-rounded and participate in clubs.

Fun facts – Julia Cullen 

Favorite book: The Golden Rules, by Bob Bowman.

Favorite TV show: Scandal.

Favorite movie: American Sniper.

Favorite athlete: “Michael Phelps, of course!”

Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.

Favorite place to visit: Palm Coast, Fla.

Favorite pre-meet meal: Pasta and chicken.

Favorite color: Blue.

Person you most admire, and why: “My mom because she always puts everyone before herself and I would not be near the person I am today without her.”

Family members: parents Jim and Beth Cullen, brother Patrick, sister Casey.

(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)

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