Jan. 24, 2011
Michael Sullivan is in his fourth season with the Notre Dame men’s swimming team where he performs in the backstroke and the individual medley. A native of Franklin, Mass., he is joined on the team by his brother, Patrick, a freshman swimmer. This season, Sullivan had his strongest performance of the year at the Hawkeye Invitational at the University of Iowa, Dec. 3-5, when he helped Notre Dame to a second place finish among seven teams. In three races, the finance major took a pair of seconds and one fourth while swimming his three top times of the year. Sullivan started the weekend with a second-place finish in the 200 IM, swimming that race in a time of 1:50.85. His second race was the 400 IM where he was second overall in a time of 3:55.13 and he closed the weekend with a fourth-place finish in the 200 back stroke in a time of 1:48.66. In the 200 back stroke, Sullivan was fourth with a time of 1:48.66 to wrap up a strong weekend. Earlier this month, und.com’s Adam Schmitz had a chance to talk to Michael about swimming and his career at Notre Dame.
Who have been your role models growing up? I always looked up to my older brother, PJ and my dad. PJ was a swimmer, too, and was one of the most talented people I have ever swam with. Even though he is done swimming, I am still motivated to accomplish some of the things that he was able to accomplish. Also, the way that my dad is able to successfully balance work, being a father, and having fun is something that I still take into account in my own life.
Why did you choose to attend Notre Dame? I chose Notre Dame because I have always been a pretty big Notre Dame fan, mainly because my dad used to watch the football games on Saturdays. After taking a trip to Notre Dame, I knew it was an awesome place and the team seemed like a great group of guys that I could really get along with. I also don’t think my Irish Catholic background and going to an Irish Catholic high school hurt in the whole process.
Where are you living this year? I live in a house off campus with seven other guys. Five of us are swimmers and then there are three other students. It’s definitely an adjustment from living in a dorm room, but it’s a lot of fun. We’re a close group so it’s cool to always have these guys around to hang out with.
What has been your favorite class at Notre Dame? My favorite class here would have to be my first finance class with Carl Ackermann. He’s one of the best teachers that I have ever had and he made every class fun to go to. I’m a finance major now and I think he had something to do with that.
What is your favorite dining hall food? My favorite dining hall food is the breakfast burrito from North Dining hall. It’s a team favorite and we all look forward to it after Monday morning practice. Once it gets to be around December, that post-practice burrito is one of the things that gets me out of bed at 5:30 in the morning.
What is your favorite sport to participate in outside of swimming? I played baseball up until high school, but I think now my favorite sport outside of swimming is golf. Since my score is never anything too great, I just try to relax and have fun when I play. It can be frustrating sometimes, but golf has a funny way of letting you have a good round just often enough to make you love it.
What are your plans after college? My plan after college is to get a job, preferably in Boston. That’s where I’m from and I love the city so I’d definitely like to go back. Obviously, I’ll take a job anywhere, but that’s my goal.
What is your dream job outside of swimming? My dream job would be to host the TV show Man vs. Food. I watch the show a lot and I think it would be awesome going to different cities every couple of days and eating all of the best food. The challenges would hurt, but I think it would be worth it.
If you could compete in one event in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, what would it be? If I could compete in one event, I would play basketball. It would be awesome to be on a team with those guys just because they always look like they’re having a good time.
Who is your favorite professional athlete? My favorite pro athlete is Kevin Garnett. I think he is the most intense guy in all of professional sports, and I love how pumped up he gets.
What is your pre-meet routine and meal? Before a meet, I always like to keep things the same. I’ll usually eat some fruit, a bagel with cream cheese, some yogurt and eggs. I have been doing the same warm up for the last seven years or so and I always get a stretch in beforehand. The routine is important to me, just because it’s one less thing you have to think about on the day of a meet.
What is a typical weekday like for you, during the season? The typical weekday has an early morning swim practice, a big breakfast and then I go back to sleep until class. After class, we have another practice, maybe a lift, then get dinner and go home. Once I’m home I pretty much do some work, play Xbox with my roommates, or watch TV, then go to bed.
When did you first decide you wanted to swim competitively? To be honest, I don’t even really remember deciding that I wanted to swim competitively. I’ve been doing it since I was about five or so and I was just doing it because my brother did it and enjoyed it.
What has been your favorite moment as a player at Notre Dame? My favorite moment as a swimmer was winning the Big East meet on the last relay in 2009. I wasn’t on the relay, but I have never been as excited as I was when our last guy touched the wall first. We were the underdogs there and celebrating with the team behind the starting blocks is something I’ll always remember.
What is your favorite away pool to swim in and why? My favorite away pool is probably Pittsburgh. It’s facilities aren’t amazing or anything, but I think it has a cool atmosphere and I have always done well there.
What are your goals for the team this year? Our team’s goals are to win the Big East meet and score points at the NCAA championships.
Who is the funniest guy on the team? Josh Nosal, also known as Linus, is the funniest guy on the team. It’s not always intentional, but some of the stuff he says and does gets the whole team laughing.
What are your individual goals this year? My individual goals are to get some specific best times, as well as score points at the NCAA meet. I think that would be a good way to end my career, so that’s what I’m working toward.
What’s your favorite girl’s dorm? My favorite girl’s dorm is probably Welsh Fam. I hung out there a good amount earlier in my time here. But the thing I like most is that its layout is exactly the same as O’Neill, which is where I lived. I always get confused going into dorms I don’t know, but I always knew my way around Welsh Fam.
How many gold medals will Michael Phelps win in the 2012 London Summer Olympics? I know he plans on swimming a reduced schedule, but with all of the relays he will be on, I’m thinking he is still going to win six gold medals.