The EA senior finished first in the 200 IM and third in the 100 back at Easterns, and was part of the Episcopal Academy 400 free relay team that broke the Delaware County record set by Haverford School in 2018. He holds numerous pool and school records, including breaking former EA swimmer Ivan Puskovitch’s mark in the 200 IM at Easterns, clocking 1:48.46. Wesley will be swimming for the United States Military Academy (Army) in the fall. EA swimming head coach Brian Kline said, “It has been a pleasure to have Sam on this team and he will be sorely missed for his talent, amazing work ethic and drive in and out of the water. Sam holds multiple records here at EA and that is only a part of what makes him special here. He has been a massive part of our success these past four years. Army is lucky to pick him up in the fall.”
Q: You hold multiple pool and school records. Which record means the most to you and why?
A: Definitely the 200 IM I recently set. After last year’s EA captain and my great friend Ivan Puskovitch left an unbelievable mark on our program, I wanted to follow in his footsteps and break his record in the 200 IM. This whole season I worked on improving my back, breast and free. I had to adjust for butterfly because back in August, I had a pretty major setback injuring my left shoulder from doing improper pushups for my CFA for West Point. It affected me all of the fall and up until the beginning of January. Fortunately, the weeks upon weeks of physical therapy paid off, and it healed. Going back to my swim, I believe this injury has changed the way I swam IM, going out slower in fly, but turning it on in the last six laps. It was also awesome being able to chase down Alex Hazlett of Brunswick School after a blazing first 100. I had a blast being able to swim against a great competitor like him!
Q: What do you think was your best swim at Easterns, and what was the key to your success that day?
A: While I want to say it was one of my individuals (specifically my 200 IM), I surprised myself a lot in my 50 free anchor leg of our 200 medley relay. I think I’m getting great at timing myself so I can get fast jump off the blocks and right into churning the water. I also attribute my great swim to the tight and amazing chemistry our relay has. Jack [Christian], Cole [Whitsett], my twin brother [Ben] and I have swam that event since the beginning of the 2017-2018 season, so we have a lot of experience. I would really like this swim to motivate me to go sub 20 seconds come my club nationals meet (YNATS).
Q: What, to you, has been the highlight (most memorable moment) of your EA swimming career and why?
A: It might seem predictable, but it is definitely my final race as an Episcopal swimmer, being given the opportunity to end Easterns on a high note and swim in the 400 free relay with Jack [Christian], Cole [Whitsett], and my twin brother [Ben]. All of us had best swims, we broke the Delco record set by The Haverford School back in 2018, and most of all, our entire team had our backs and cheered us on every second. We gave everything we had, and put a lot of pressure on the Easterns champs, Andover Boys, up until the very end. That swim, in my mind, was the perfect way to end my high school career.
Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?
A: A typical day I would usually train with the RAYS. I rarely go to mornings, but if I do, I would swim at EA with Coach Lear and the EAAC from 6:15-7:30 a.m. I would then have school, drive back, do homework/studies, and then have practice ranging from 6:30/7-9 p.m. I’ve never really overtrained myself, as I have not ever done “doubles” or two practices in a day in my whole eight years on my club. I think having a single practice a day for seven days a week is perfect for the level of swimming I’m at; however, I am eager and willing to change that when I get to West Point with a more rigorous style of training. I also have never been on a lifting program, something that I told myself I would not want to do until I get to college. I think this is the best way for me to leave a very high ceiling for me to improve on when I become a plebe.
Q: Who have been your most influential swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?
A: I give all the credit to both my club and high school coaches, and without them, I would be nowhere near the swimmer I am today. My club coaches, Erik Nelson and Jim Ryan, have taught me that my swimming career is my responsibility, and that if I want to improve and get better every day, I need to make the best decisions I think will suit me the best. While doing this, I should also have an extremely hard work ethic with what I choose to do. My high school coaches like Brian Kline and Quincy Hyson (and others!) have taught me to approach swimming with a very positive attitude, bringing energy to every practice. Coach Kline had a great phrase that summed up our season: “Leave no doubt.” That mentality demonstrates the unique leadership and great passion he and my other high school coaches have, and I admire every bit of it. These two lessons that club and high school swimming have taught me have not only made me a great swimmer, but a great person and leader. What they have taught me will without a doubt stay with me throughout my college career and aspiring years of service.
Q: What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?
A: I really enjoy the Greensboro Aquatic Center, as it has been the location of the YMCA Short Course Nationals for the past four years. The pool is fast and there is a lot of space to swim; it’s just an overall great venue. However, last December, I went to McCauley Aquatic Center in Atlanta for the first time, and I loved it. The fact that you’re swimming in a pool where the Summer Olympics was once held is very special. So, it’s a tie between the two.
Q: What attracted you to West Point?
A: I have admired the two service academies, Army and Navy, ever since I was 12. I went to the Army-Navy game back in 2014, and that introduced me to the idea of becoming an officer in the military. Last April, I went up for an official visit with Army and fell in love with everything West Point has to offer. The idea of attending a school that gives you a top education in the world, a one-of-a-kind military and leadership development to become a platoon leader, and the support for me to compete collegiately in swimming, is something I couldn’t pass up. With the incredibly bright, young, and high energy coaching staff that came together in September, I verbally committed in mid-October. I can’t wait to get to post June 29 for Cadet Basic Training, and ultimately become a Black Knight!
Q: You are a lifeguard at the Ridley YMCA and part-time swim instructor there. Tell us a little about your volunteer swimming activities outside of EA.
A: I volunteer for my club during swim meets, Delco Senior Games, Special Olympics, and other opportunities coach Erik will offer me to help him and my community out. The extracurricular I’m most humble to be a part of is my brother and I volunteering to lifeguard and swim instruct in the Chester City Memorial Park Pool in the summer. They were very understaffed, so we wanted to offer our help to assist them for about 15 hours a week. We have done it since the summer of 2018, and I plan on doing it again this June. It is an incredible experience getting to teach underprivileged children how to swim, while also having so much fun. In addition to the experience, I’ve made very good friends with the people of Chester. With that said, I encourage all swimmers to take a step further with the abilities they possess, and teach others who don’t have the skills or privileges how to swim.
Fun facts – Sam Wesley
Favorite book: The Catcher in the Rye.
Favorite TV show: Seinfeld.
Favorite movie: Midnight Express.
Favorite athlete: Chase Utley.
Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Welcome to the Terrordome.
Favorite team: Philadelphia Phillies.
Favorite place to visit: The Wanamaker Building.
Family members: parents Michael and Cynthia, stepmother Dawn, twin brother Ben.
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)
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