Philip Adejumo: The Yale PhD Candidate Who Wants To Swim For Nigeria At The Olympics

Philip Adejumo

Philip Adejumo’s first post-graduate move didn’t have swimming in mind. Now that he’s chasing an Olympic berth for Nigeria, his second is more considered in the athletic realm. Adejumo wrapped up his career at the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a flourish in 2018: Five gold medals (two individual), two school records and one America East mark at the conference championships. 

He had a postgrad position as a staff researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center lined up and while he hoped to continue swimming, that wasn’t the career he was most focused on. It was almost a happy accident that he found himself a 10-minute walk from Nashville Aquatic Club, training under John Morse and in a group with Gretchen Walsh and other top club swimmers.

“He just kind of showed up one day and we didn’t know him, didn’t know anything about him,” Morse said. “Usually we’re pretty apprehensive about somebody coming in, very protective of the culture we’ve developed within the senior group, and he just kind of showed up and once we got him in the water and got him going, we were excited about his potential but also excited about the dynamic that he brought to the training group.”

Two years later, Adejumo’s next move is no less impressive academically, having been accepted to an MD/Ph.D. program at Yale. But this time, as Adejumo vetted programs, he factored in his desire to swim past the Tokyo Olympics, even if had they been held this summer as scheduled. He opted for Yale in part because he’d worked out an arrangement to train with the swim team.

Philip Adjeumo, The PhD Swimmer

“I chose Yale because they have a very flexible curriculum,” Adejumo said this week. “They have athletes in other sports still competing or still training, and so I thought to myself, if I did want to continue swimming, if I did want to continue competing, it would probably only be possible at a school like Yale.”

The decision shows the growth that Adejumo has enjoyed in the pool, as his academics have flourished apace. And it gives him a chance to blaze trails in and out of the pool.

Adejumo is one of Nigeria’s most prominent swimming hopes. He holds national records in the 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly, showing his rare versatility. He’s chasing an Olympic B cut, which would likely earn an at-large selection to the Games. But he puts his striving in a larger context of the paucity of Olympic A cuts for sub-Saharan swimmers, a barrier he hopes to break.

Source: SwimmingWorld Magazine

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