Cullinan, a Heights junior, won the 500-yard freestyle at last week’s City League meet. He’s looking for more at the Class 6A meet this week in Topeka.
What’s your goal at the state meet?
“I’m currently trying to win the 6A 500 freestyle and try to get my junior national cut in the process. I need to cut two seconds. It’s very doable. It is a good place to get it because I’ll have people to race me.”
The 500 is a long race, isn’t it?
“It’s 20 laps. To some people, it may appear long. To me, at club, I swim the mile and it’s one of my best races. It’s 1,650 yards versus 500 yards. So it’s not too long for me to race the 500. I usually don’t even look at the numbers (of laps) until I get into the teens when the race is almost over. I don’t even think about it when I’m swimming. Then I go into the 200, and that is the most difficult race because it’s too long to sprint the entire thing, but it’s not long enough to pace it. I think it’s the hardest race because it’s a difficult balance between taking it out fast enough but not too fast and having enough to bring home the second 100 fast enough to catch people if you need to.”
How do you handle the workouts and the mental fatigue that comes from swimming year-round?
“The workout can be taxing, but it’s not too bad if you know it’s for a greater good in your races. Mental fatigue only (happens) if you let it get to you. There’s always times where you question yourself, but if you can push through it and know you’re swimming for a goal to accomplish then it’s not too bad to handle.”
How important is school for you?
“I’m expected to get As and Bs. If I get a B, I’d get a warning (from my parents). I wouldn’t dream of having a C. I wouldn’t want to know what happens. My parents have high expectations of me and my brothers. They’ve pushed us to get good grades and to go to college. That’s something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve pushed to be my best. I’m in national honor society. I push to have the best grades I can.”
Your dad was in the Air Force, your uncle is an Air Force pilot and you are currently applying to West Point. Why West Point?
“I’ve always considered the military as an option for me. West Point has great reviews as a college. You graduate as an officer in the military and that’s a great way to start your life. My ideal job would be a federal law enforcement officer. I looked at it, I’ve researched the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Homeland Security. I don’t want to do a desk job. I want to go out there every day and find the criminal.”