For brothers Chris, Tim, and Sean Satterthwaite, going Ivy wasn’t enough of a feat. Instead, they decided to add walking on to Division I swim teams to their list of accomplishments. Chris is the co-captain for Harvard swimming, Tim is a junior swimmer for Cornell, and Sean is a recent addition to the Crimson team.
The Satterthwaite brothers are not the family’s first presence in Ivy League swimming. Their mother, Ann Satterthwaite ’84, was the Harvard women’s swim team manager during her time here. Although she was never on the team herself, her love of the sport is part of the reason swimming became a family activity.
“My mom went to Harvard and managed the women’s swim team,” Sean said. “She just really liked the sport and she thought it would be good to get us into it.”
The boys first started swimming at an early age not only because of their mother’s enthusiasm, but also because of the family’s prior experience living in Singapore.
“Singapore is a very hot and humid place,” Tim said. “One of the best ways to stay cool is to go to the pool. That’s where we all learned where to swim, since we spent so much time in the water anyways.”
After trying many other sports, the Satterthwaites eventually devoted their time to competitive swimming when they moved to England.
The brothers cited many different reasons they stuck with the sport through high school and into college, but all three echoed a desire to maintain the family’s special tie to swimming.
“It was nice afterschool to go to practice with my brothers,” Chris said. “It was a way for us to all stay involved in the same activity. Even though we’re all close in age, we still mostly do our own things…so it’s something we took a lot of pride in and enjoyed doing together.”
Chris was the first to make his mark on Ivy swimming. After getting accepted without a likely letter, Chris joined the swim team and dropped a substantial amount of time. He now holds the Harvard record for the 100 freestyle, as well as a number of relay records. Chris’s decision to swim at Harvard played a part in college decisions for both Tim and Sean.
“[Chris has] had a fantastic experience here,” Sean said. “He got a lot faster, and made a lot of good friends, so when it came time for me to decide whether or not to swim in college…. I came out and visited him and really loved it.”
Sean’s addition to the Harvard team formed a deeper connection between the brothers.
“We obviously shared a lot of experiences at home, but this was something else,” Chris said. “For the first three years this was something that was just a part of my life, not a part of my family’s. They were able to come to meets but they weren’t able to share the same experiences with me. When Sean was considering coming I was excited, and now that he’s here I’m thrilled about sharing my last season with him.”
Outside of the pool, the brothers hang out and help each other more as siblings, not as teammates.
“He’s my captain and treats me just as he would treat any other freshman,” Sean said. “But he’s also my brother when I need him to be. He’s already been through everything, and is an awesome source of advice, which has been very useful.”
Not only do all three brothers do the same sport, but they also swim almost the exact same events, mainly the 50, 100, and 200 free. This sparked a friendly competitive edge among them.
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