Ethan Schulz of Scarborough smiles after swimming the anchor leg for the winning the 200-yard freestyle relay team at the Class A boys’ state championships in February. Schulz was named the Swimmer of the Meet. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Ethan Schulz would make a lousy gorilla.

You know, the kind who beat their chests? Some swimmers are like that, standing atop the starting block, psyching themselves up, maybe even, like a silverback in the rainforest, attempting to intimidate their rivals.

Ethan Schulz

“Personally, I don’t really feel like slapping myself repeatedly just to make my skin look red, and make myself look all big and puffy,” said the senior from Scarborough. “It hurts.”

He paused.

“I don’t want it to hurt.”

Instead, Schulz will give his arms and legs a shake, peer down his lane, and visualize what he hopes to accomplish. His focus is inward, not outward.


“He knows he’s good,” said Scarborough Coach Morgan Royle, “but you wouldn’t know he was. Until you saw him swim.”

Indeed, Schulz was Maine’s most dominant high school swimmer this winter. He led Scarborough to a second straight Class A state championship. He defended his 100-yard freestyle crown, added a third straight 200 free title and swam on two of the Red Storm’s three winning relays.

He posted the fastest time of the season in four of the eight individual events, and in the remainder, he was second, fourth, sixth and ninth fastest. He etched his name among Maine’s all-time top-20 performances in three relays, as well as the 50 free (15th, at 21.67 seconds), 100 free (sixth, 46.70), 200 free (fifth, 1:41.90) and 100 butterfly (ninth, 51.50).

He is our choice as the 2023 Varsity Maine Boys’ Swimmer of the Year.

“He’s got this incredible athletic talent,” Royle said, “but then I honestly don’t think I’ve met an athlete who is more humble, and just a good person. He is so respectful and helpful. You don’t see an ounce of cockiness in him.”

Schulz said he embarked on his swimming career only after failing at other sports such as soccer, basketball and baseball. An older cousin swam, and she recommended that he try it. Schulz had taken some lessons and learned how to float, but never did any stroke work or competitive training until he joined the Westbrook Seals as a third grader.


After five years with Westbrook, he switched clubs to Coastal Maine Aquatics, which recently merged with a team in Massachusetts and is now the Bluefish Swim Club. He said he’s made wonderful friends through both club and high school swimming, and the sport itself, though often grueling, grew to be therapeutic.

“It became a way for me to clear my mind,” he said. “When you’re in the water, it’s just you and yourself, and you can push all your thoughts aside.”

Schulz said he is lucky to have been able to enter this season having already made his college choice. His goal is to compete at the NCAA championships, and figured his best bet to do so would be at the Division II level. Although he had plenty of interest from Division I schools, he opted for Grand Valley State University, located just west of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he plans to major in mechanical engineering.

In fact, swimming wasn’t the only state championship this winter for Schulz. Five days after the state meet, he was part of a Scarborough quartet that won a state robotics title (as well as a prestigious Excellence Award).

Teams from both Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth (which won the Class B swimming state title and edged the Red Storm in a tightly contested Southwesterns meet) qualified for the Robotics World Championship later this month in Dallas.

“I work more on the build side,” Schulz said, “coming up with ideas, working around certain things and making sure the bots are structurally sound and efficient.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit and there wasn’t much to do, Schulz made eight sets of cornhole boards, individually customized. He called it his “keep myself busy and not-go-insane project.”

As a two-year captain, Schulz also helped smooth the transition to Royle from longtime Scarborough Coach Eric French.

“He was so helpful to me,” Royle said. “All the swimmers looked up to him, and he was fully supporting me as a coach. He’s just that perfect example of what an athlete should be, the epitome of sportsmanship.”

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