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Seiler swims to SEALS

By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Correspondent
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Not many college athletes get to use skills from their sports in the careers they pursue after graduation. David Seiler, however, plans on doing just that. The Placer High graduate, who will wrap up a record-setting career for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’ men’s swimming team this week at the NCAA Division I championships in Minnesota, plans to become a Navy SEAL after he completes his bachelor’s degree in communications next spring. “It’s a lifestyle I’m used to,” Seiler said of the elite fighting unit, which derives its name from being able to operate on sea, air and land. “I’ve been an athlete my whole life. It’s very fast-paced and very structured, and that’s swimming in a nutshell.” One requirement to become a SEAL is being able to swim 500 yards in 12 minutes and 30 seconds or less. Although Seiler is used to swimming much shorter distances in races, UNLV coach Jim Reitz believes he can power through it. “He’s at his best under pressure,” Reitz said. “(Being a SEAL) is something that’s highly pain- and time-intensive, but he displays the same tenacity and mental toughness in races that you need to do something like that.” In no race has that been more evident than the 200-meter medley relay. Seiler has helped UNLV set the Mountain West Conference in that event in each of the past three seasons. This year Seiler led off the race by swimming the backstroke and helped the Rebels turn in a record mark of 1:25.59. “It helped a lot that we had a young relay last year,” Seiler said. “We didn’t graduate anybody, so we had a whole ‘nother year to train, get faster and work on exchanges with the same four guys.” The Rebels have even higher aspirations in that event at the NCAA meet, which will run from Thursday through Saturday. “I don’t want to say it’s guaranteed, but we expect to be All-Americans,” Seiler said. To accomplish that, UNLV must finish in the top eight. “Anything less, and we wouldn’t be a success,” Seiler said. Seiler is also slated to compete in four other events at the NCAA championships – the 100 backstroke, the 100 butterfly, and the 400 medley and 400 freestyle relays, according to Reitz. It was as a butterflier that Seiler won his only Mountain West’s individual championships as a sophomore two years ago. He won the 100 fly in a then-record time of 46.88 – the record has since been broken by UNLV teammate Cody Roberts – and also won the 200 fly. As a junior, however, Seiler’s focus switched to the backstroke. He held the Mountain West record in the 100 back (48.03) entering this season and placed second in that event at this year’s conference meet with a time of 48.44. “Being the great athlete that he is, we needed someone to do the backstroke on our relay,” Reitz said. “Because he’s an unselfish guy, he became our top backstroker. He doesn’t train much for the butterfly anymore, and that sacrifice shows his caring for his team.” Despite his lack of training, Seiler has still performed well in the 100 butterfly, finishing second at the Mountain West championship meet each of the past two years. “No matter what, he swims great at meets,” Reitz said. Seiler’s last big meet should be no exception, according to the UNLV coach. “He’s come a long way since he’s been here,” Reitz said. “We’re very proud of him. We were happy to have him on our team, and we’re gonna miss him when he graduates, believe me.” ______________________________________________________ Up Close with David Seiler Graduated from: Placer High (2007 Currently attending: University of Nevada-Las Vegas Year: Senior Sport: Swimming Events (in meters): 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 and 400 medley relays, 400 freestyle relay Height: 6-foot-2 Major: Communications Notable: One of UNLV’s team captains this season, he will compete for the final time at this week’s NCAA Division I men’s championships; has helped the Rebels’ 200 medley relay squad break the Mountain West Conference record in each of the past three years; won MWC titles in the 100 and 200 butterflies as a sophomore before switching his focus to the backstroke; plans to become a Navy SEAL after graduation.