Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon Credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon

Last swim season, junior Gates Winkler showed vast improvement, most notably dropping 10 seconds in his 500-yard freestyle and getting ninth place at the University Athletic Association championships after not making the meet the year before. This season, Winkler outdid himself, dropping 11 more seconds and getting second place at the UAAs with a time of 4:30.96, automatically qualifying him for the NCAA Championship this March.

The Tartan: Would you say there was anything different about this year than previous years to warrant such improvement?
Winkler: I didn’t really do anything or train differently from previous seasons. I think that my improvement is just a natural following from the increasing intensity of the practices and our coaches’ continuing to push us. They keep working to make us better, and I think the entire team has improved because of it.

T: What is your favorite aspect of being on the swim team?
W: I really like that it gives me a break from the rest of school and allows me to focus on something different. Being in the pool with the rest of the team is a great way to decompress after a hard day of class.

T: What are your plans after you get your degrees in electrical and computer engineering and technical writing?
W: Probably graduate school, and I’m not sure what after that. I think I might like to look into some sort of job in the movie industry (the technical side, of course).

T: What is your favorite way to procrastinate?
W: The usual — playing video games, watching TV. But always make sure you get your work done, kids!

T: What is your favorite event? What is your least favorite?
W: I’m a big fan of the 500 free, just because I’ve been swimming it the longest, and I still feel like it’s sort of my specialty event. As for a least favorite event, I try to avoid anything that isn’t freestyle. The breaststroke or IM events are particularly unpleasant for me.

T: Do you have any idols, in the pool or out?
W: I try to do my own thing, but there are people whose examples I try to follow. My fellow distancer, [Tartans teammate senior] Tom McConnell, sets a great example in terms of intensity and attitude about swimming. On the academic side, I try to be like my dad, who I’m convinced actually does know everything.

T: Do you plan to keep any connection with swimming or Tartan athletics after you graduate?
W: I think I’ll probably keep swimming, at least on my own, after I graduate. And I’d like to be able to come back and visit the team.

T: Do you have any nicknames?
W: During Homecoming my freshman year, one of the alums thought that I was a Swedish or Scandinavian foreign exchange student, so my nickname is Sven.

T: What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
W: What, African or European?