Sophomore Sam Schutt is a swimmer for the University of South Dakota. She has posted two Summit League Women’s Swimmer of the Week awards and competes in
the freestyle events. Her brother, senior Nick Schutt, transferred to USD from Oklahoma Baptist University this season.
Nathan Ellenbecker: Your last name is pronounced “shut,” not “shoot”?
N.E.: What are you seeing out of your team this season?
S.S.: Right now, a lot of improvement actually. Everyone seems stronger and faster and more encouraging. The team as a whole is a lot more of a group unit than individuals, and swimming is a lot more of an individual sport. It’s easy to get in those habits. I’ve only had one year of experience, but it seems the freshmen are comfortable talking to the seniors, seniors to the sophomores, the sophomores to the juniors.
N.E.: What do you attribute that to? Communication between everybody?
S.S.: We’ve had a lot of hardships this year already. We lost our dive coach. Our pool keeps breaking down on us. We were out for two weeks, and we couldn’t control any of it. When everything’s going wrong and the only team that understands it are the swim team, it kind of gives you something to bond over. It sucked, but it kind of worked in our favor a bit.
N.E.: How do your teammates describe you?
S.S.: I try to be nice and encouraging. The coaches don’t have a million eyes, so I try to look for things to help people on. I try to stay positive, but it’s a sport with a lot of mental games. I wouldn’t say I’m much of a leader on the team, but I definitely learned a lot from everybody. I chill and do my own thing.
N.E.: Vermillion is a different world than Columbus, Ohio, isn’t it?
S.S.: Everybody says “Hi” to you. That’s one of the reasons I came here. In the city it’s the complete opposite. People are being shoved into you. People don’t talk to you. People hate you just by looking at you. Here people are so nice, and they actually, genuinely want to see you succeed. All my teachers, I tell them I’m missing a couple days, and “Oh, we can Skype you or we can text if you have any questions.” I’m like “Wait, are you really this accommodating? You really don’t have to be.”
N.E.: You got that feeling immediately?
S.S.: Coach Jason (Mahowald) contacted me on my trip here and tried to line me up with my host. My host ended up being Rachel Svendson, and she was like “What do you want to do?” It didn’t matter what you have to do. It was what do you want to do. She showed me some things, and we went from there. All I wanted to see was the library. She took me there, and she said it was the lamest thing ever. She’ll tell you that story.
N.E.: Why would you want to see that?
S.S.: It’s a comfortable place to be. To do homework and stuff, you’re going to go to the library. I mean, we have to go to the library, so if I’m going to spend that much time in there, it might as well be some place I enjoy. Kind of like a second home outside the pool.
N.E.: What’s your best memory while at USD?
S.S.: Last year, I was here for a week. We had a Saturday morning practice, and all of a sudden, the coaches were like “Go put your clothes on.” We had a list of stuff we were supposed to bring to practice, and all of a sudden they are handing out blind folds. Keep in mind, it’s been a week in a new place. I knew nobody out here, and the coaches want to blindfold you (and) stick you into a big white van. It was a little sketchy. We winded up having a team-bonding exercise out in the middle of nowhere. Pretty much, just like anywhere South Dakota. We carried each other on our backs across sand and were swimming in a lake none of us knew, and it was freezing, and it was awful, but it was so much fun all at the same time. It was something I’ve never experienced before.
N.E.: What are your goals for the rest of the year?
S.S.: I just want to improve on last year. I want to make Jason proud. I know he’s really hoping we’ll move up in our conference ranks, so whatever I can do to help that will be great. My brother just transferred here. He’s a super senior. We went the opposite way. He followed me, not I followed him. And he wants to win the 200 free, and he wants me to win it, too. That’s a super-way-out-there dream goal for us to do that back-to-back.