For someone who has won the Big East Most Outstanding Swimmer award in back-to-back seasons, it is a surprise that Noah Yanchulis’ did not get into a pool until he tried out for a program on a whim in middle school.
Growing up in Arnold, Md., Yanchulis participated in a wide range of sports, including baseball, lacrosse and football. He also played basketball until he was a freshman in high school.
Yanchulis decided to take up swimming when a former lacrosse teammate recommended he try out for a local swimming program during a summer when he was in middle school.
“I tried that and did that for two years or three years,” Yanchulis said. “Then my summer coach said ‘Hey, you should try swimming at a year round club.’”
Yanchulis joined the Naval Academy Aquatic Club, where he qualified for National Club Swimming Association nationals. He spent all four years at Broadneck High School swimming on their varsity team, setting four school records by the time he graduated.
In 2014, Yanchulis looked for a college to continue his swimming career. He committed to Seton Hall under head coach Ron Farina – something that Yanchulis himself did not expect to happen at the beginning of his recruiting process.
“I didn’t actually even know really anything about Seton Hall,” Yanchulis said. “I was looking at other schools and my coach contacted the head coach here, and like a week later I came to visit here and I signed. It was all very, very quick.”
What has led Yanchulis through his high school and college years as a swimmer has been the opportunity to get better. That mentality has led to an incredible amount of success for Yanchulis at Seton Hall. In 2015, he was the Big East Champion for the 200 freestyle. The following year, he defended his 200 freestyle title and added the 500 freestyle en route to winning the Big East Most Outstanding Male Swimmer award.
Yanchulis repeated as the champion in both freestyle events and added first-place finishes in the 400 free relay and 800 free relay in the 2017 Big East Championship, once again claiming the Most Outstanding Male Swimmer title. The Seton Hall men’s swimming team won the Big East title, as well.
Now, as a senior, Yanchulis has earned three first-place finishes and three second-place finishes in the young season.
“He has a great work ethic,” current head coach Derek Sapp said. “Performance-wise and skill-wise, he’s been able to grow a lot.”
While his times have steadily improved over the course of his collegiate career, Yanchulis believes the most important change in his game is his ability to lead.
“Being able to vocalize my thoughts and not being afraid to say things to teammates has been the biggest thing,” Yanchulis said. “I feel pretty confident that I have had a very consistently strong work ethic, but developing my leadership skills has definitely been my biggest improvement.”
“He’s one of our senior captains, and even as a freshman he and Cody Wimmer would come in and say ‘Hey, what can we do?’” Sapp said.
“That has grown a lot over the past four years, and it says a lot for a freshman to have that kind of charisma to come in and talk to coaches like that.”
Yanchulis has what remains of his last season at Seton Hall before he graduates in the spring – and with the constant drive to improve, he can help solidify himself as a Pirate gamechanger.
“I think the best part about swimming is that I always know I can keep getting better, no matter what,” Yanchulis said. “No matter what you do, even if you swim the fastest race of your life, you can always go faster.”
Matt Lapolla can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MatthewLapolla.