Timothy Sweeney has become a name well-known not only within the College of Staten Island swimming program but throughout all of CUNYAC Swimming. The Staten Island native not only holds 12 records on the Dolphins’ leaderboard, but also finishes his career holding six CUNYAC Championships records. Sweeney knows nothing but triumph at the CUNYAC Championships. In his four years, the CSI star has gone undefeated and for his efforts, was named the CUNYAC Championship Meet MVP in each of the four meets.
The St. Peter’s alum has swam nearly his whole life, since the age of five. When choosing a school, he found that the College of Staten Island was the best fit for him. “I was looking at a few different schools coming out of high school,” said Sweeney. “In the end, CSI was the best fit for me academically and being accepted into the MaCaulay honors program helped as well. At CSI I knew I was getting a great education.” “Obviously swimming had a big factor too. I was actually familiar with head coach Mike Ackalitis before I went to CSI as he was an assistant coach on one of my club teams, so that made me even more comfortable.”
Despite being one of the best swimmers to grace the pool for the Dolphins, Sweeney always kept his focus on his schoolwork and where he was going, “coming into the Macaulay Honors College at the College of Staten Island I was focused on academics, making that my number one priority, but I still wanted swimming to remain a part of my life. Within the first few weeks of the swim season, the support and guidance I received through the athletics department at CSI made me realize that I didn’t have to sacrifice my passion for swimming in order to succeed in the classroom. By being a student athlete at CSI, I was able to continue to grow and improve as a swimmer while maintaining the grades I had set my expectations on,” said Sweeney.
In the classroom, the senior accumulated a 3.86 GPA while majoring in Math and minoring in both Finance and Geography. When asked how he was able to balance his academic and athletic workload, Sweeney said “I’ve been swimming since childhood, and I’ve always managed to keep school and swimming parallel to each other, I rely on both of them to keep the other in line,” says Sweeney, “having a set schedule keeps me focused, I know I need to have practice in the morning, and then I have a set time for homework, a set time for class, so it offers a little more structure and organization in my day.” “When it comes to both, I strive to be better than I was, whether it’s getting a better time or improving my GPA. I always try to be a little better than I was the day before, and when that happens, then the rest falls into place.”
The senior’s schedule was always a busy one, “I never really had too much free time. Most of my life revolved around the campus of CSI, I spent more time here than anywhere else,” says Sweeney, half-jokingly. “We practiced every day from 7-9 AM and we’d have two-a-days, two times a week. Outside of practice we hit the gym three times a week,” said Sweeney about his preparation for swimming. On the academic side, “I would go to class and I often met up with fellow students to study and work on things together. In addition, I was involved with a research program here on campus. I worked with some professors in the math department as well as professors in the finance and geography departments.” The MaCaulay program required an honors thesis upon graduation and this research program was Sweeney’s method of working towards his thesis. On top of all of the dedication that went into being a student-athlete, Sweeney also worked at the CSI Aquatics Center as a lifeguard and provided swimming lessons to local youth.
This past February, Sweeney, a two-time CUNYAC Performer of the Year, capped off a legendary career for the Dolphins at the CUNYAC Championships. “I consider myself lucky to have been a member of the CUNYAC, I was able to have a lot of good races there. However, I do owe a lot of my success to my teammates because more than half of my gold medals were from being on relay teams. I wouldn’t have had all of my success without my current and past teammates, they’ve all had a hand in that success.” When asked how he was able to have such an outstanding career at CSI and within the CUNYAC, Sweeney said, “I swam for a long time before coming to CSI so I built on what I did in my previous years. Each year I increased the amount of yardage in my workouts. I looked back each year on my previous season and what I could do to improve more. Each year, the team and I tried to add to what we didn’t do the year before.” In addition, Sweeney finished February at the Metro Swimming Championships where he finished third overall in the 200 yard Butterfly and where his 400 yard Freestyle Relay team finished 9th overall. As a result of his great weekend, he was given the Co-Outstanding Senior Award, making him the first Dolphin swimmer to ever take home that honor.
Come the fall, Sweeney will be taking his talents to Upper Manhattan, his math and actuary talents that is. After receiving acceptance letters from the University of Connecticut and Boston University Actuarial Science Programs, Sweeney also received the answer he had long been waiting for. The math whiz recently found out he will be continuing his education at Columbia University. “I want to become an actuary, which is somebody who forecasts risk and probabilities, for either an insurance company or to work with investing,” said Sweeney when talking about where he wants his career to take him.
When reflecting back on his four years at CSI and competing within the CUNYAC, Sweeney had the following to say, “My four years at the College of Staten Island have molded me into the student, athlete, and person I am today and to even be a nominee for the City University of New York Athletic Conference’s Scholar Athlete of the Year Award is an amazing accomplishment that I am incredibly proud of and thankful to have gotten. For all of my achievements to be recognized, both academically and athletically, is the cherry on top of an amazing four years I have experienced as a student athlete at the College of Staten Island and The City University of New York. As much of an honor it is to receive this award for me individually, it also reflects the hours of time spent by the staff of the College of Staten Island’s Athletic Department in creating an environment that places academics in the highest regard and aids its students in succeeding in all aspects of their college experience.”