As the Ithaca College men’s swimming and diving team moves from the fall into the spring semester, the team holds high goals for the semester leading up to the Liberty League Championships. For a team looking to make a push during the second half of the season, senior swimmer Michael Sheehan sees his role on the team as a mentor.
Sheehan has appeared in Liberty League championships in each of the last two seasons that the team has had, finishing with a team–best time of 4:48 in the 500-meter freestyle in the 2020 Liberty League Championship. Without having a season last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheehan is ready to step back into his place as a role model for the new members of the team.
Staff writer Tobiah Zboray sat down with Sheehan to discuss his impact as a leader, and the expectations for the team this season.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tobiah Zboray: What have you most enjoyed about being a member of the Ithaca College swim team?
Michael Sheehan: For me, it goes back to the family aspect of it. Making friendships over the past three-and-a-half years has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and I know that I’ll be friends with them down the line.
TZ: How have you seen yourself grow as a swimmer over the past four years?
MS: As a swimmer, I feel like I’ve definitely become more mature. When things don’t go as they are planned, you can either let that bring you down, or you can keep pushing forward and keep doing as much as you can. It taught me that while it might not be the way that I expected things to go, there is still a lot to get out of it and I can still enjoy the sport in the same way that I did before.
TZ: With that maturity, how have you been able to help this new class of freshman swimmers joining the team, helping them to make an impact both in the pool and in the locker room?
MS: As a senior on this team, it’s your job to kind of show them the ropes, this is what it’s like to be a Bomber, this is what it’s like to be a part of the team. It’s also your job to make them feel appreciated and wanted, because they are, they are wanted. Everybody talks about them when they’re recruits, we are always looking to see who’s coming in the following year, and we’re very excited. They’re coming into a team that has been together for a while and it might be a little intimidating at first, but in reality the team just wants to become one and become closer together.
TZ: What are your expectations for the rest of the season for yourself?
MS: Personally, I just want to try to motivate my teammates as much as possible. I want to make sure that they know what it feels like to be a Bomber, and I’m very excited to be able to show that. In the pool, just focusing on every day, trying to get better than I was the day before. It’s easy to focus on the outcome that you want, but my focus this year has just shifted to making sure I can better myself every day. And if I can better myself every day, then I can have a good end to the season.
TZ: With one tournament left in the fall semester in the Bomber Invitational, is there anything that the team wants to do specifically in this final meet that hasn’t been done in previous meets?
MS: We have a few extra relays that we can swim, and this is a great opportunity for the new kids to show what they’re capable of in swimming. They are capable of a lot, I know that from watching them every day at practice and from their times. For them, it’s just about going as fast as they possibly can, it should be about wanting to go fast and enjoying that process while they’re doing it.