Paul DeLakis

Sport: Men’s swimming

Age: 21

Year: Junior

Hometown: Eau Claire, Wis.

Major: Biology

 

Question: The obvious starting point here is Wisconsin — we don’t see many of your type down here. Did you break some kind of state code by coming to Ohio for athletics?

Answer: No rules were broken! Just plain and simple, The Ohio State University was the better school, better team and better environment! I love it here and wouldn’t look back on it!

 

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Q: Have you converted any friends and/or family members to become Buckeyes fans, even if it’s just the swimming team?

A: All of my family and friends support me being a Buckeye. I have converted them to become Ohio State swimming fans, but I’m still working on them being Ohio State football fans!

Q: What appealed to you about OSU — the school and/or swimming program?

A: When I was getting recruited, I was looking toward my future. Ohio State has one of the best optometry programs in the country, and I thought it would help my chance of getting in and pursuing my dreams of being an optometrist like my father. As for swimming, I loved the team and loved getting to know them.

Q: I read somewhere that your choice came down to Ohio State and Arizona State. Can’t deal with that weather?

A: Getting looked at by Arizona State and Ohio State made the choice very difficult. It took me weeks to decide where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. I just felt so close to the team that I couldn’t say no to Ohio State!

Q: I haven’t found any resource that tells me how tall you are, but I know it’s up there. What’s the number?

A: I am 6 feet, 6 inches.

Q: Does that sort of height run in your family? How tall are you parents and siblings?

A: All the height comes from my father’s side of the family. My dad is 6-5 and my mom is 5-5. My brother is 6-2 and my sister is 5-11.

Q: Are you the youngest of the three DeLakis children? What do brother Alex and sister Tina do?

A: I am the youngest. Alex lives in Chicago and works for the AIDS Foundation. Tina lives in Austin, Texas, and works as a loan processor.

Q: Your father also is named Paul. What does that make you? Paul Jr.? Paulie? Something else?

A: Most people call me Paulie.

Q: You mentioned that your father is an optometrist in Eau Claire; how long have you wanted to follow in his footsteps?

A: I’ve strived to be just like him since I was a young boy. I am still pursuing that goal, and I am not looking back!

Q: Who else in your family is a swimmer? How did you get started in the sport?

A: All of my siblings were swimmers. Tina got us all started. Alex and Tina would always go to swim practice when I was younger, so I decided to hop in along with them!

Q: When you were a senior in high school, you won eight gold medals in the state meet; was there any event you didn’t win?

A: Those eight gold medals were over the course of four years of swimming. I am the only individual in WIAA history to win eight gold medals. Funny story: My brother won the 100 breaststroke four years in a row. The year after Alex graduated, I was a freshman and carried the tradition for four more years! So for eight years in a row, a DeLakis had won the 100 breaststroke at the state meet.

Q: Since coming to Ohio State you’ve set some school records — in the 200 freestyle, the 200 breaststroke and two freestyle relays; are you surprised by your success?

A: No, I’m not surprised. Being an Ohio State student-athlete has more meaning to it than just the name. It means that you are elite and you strive for greatness. I would be more surprised if I didn’t have a school record by now.

Q: Do you have a favorite event and/or stroke?

A: My pride and joy is the 200 freestyle. That’s my favorite event, the one I want to swim every meet.

Q: When you’re swimming in a relay, is there a particular leg you prefer?

A: I prefer the anchor. There is no better feeling than running people down and bringing your team that win!

Q: What best describes your personality in competition: Do you love to win or hate to lose?

A: I love winning, but I hate losing more than I love winning.

Q: I have to ask about this: There’s a photo out there of you, shirtless, at the edge of a pool with your arm around two dogs. Your dogs?

A: I wish those were my dogs. Those are my coach’s dogs; I made a friendly bet with him about a race. He lost and needed to bring his dogs in to practice!

Q: And when did you become aware that this photo was being used on a Tinder profile that was, um, not yours?

A: Some girl messaged me saying that “Charlie” was at Georgetown University and he was messaging girls using my photo. Right away I took it to Twitter in hopes that it would let people know that “Charlie” wasn’t me.

Q: When something like that happens, do you get chapped that someone pilfered your image, or flattered that someone would think it might help land a date?

A: Honestly, I do get pretty frustrated with it. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and I don’t want someone to ruin it for me.

Q: I don’t even know how Tinder works, but did the scoundrel get any “right swipes”?

A: I’d hope they got a least a couple!

rstein@dispatch.com