Wolfe brothers follow each other’s footsteps

Wolfe brothers follow each others footsteps

By Aaron Graff

The Wolfe family tradition of swimming at SIU almost stopped when the youngest member decided what school to attend.

Justin Wolfe swam with the Salukis from 2008 to 2013, and swam one season with his brother, senior Shaun Wolfe. Now Shaun finds himself in Justin’s role; helping his younger brother, freshman Michael Wolfe, adjust to college life.

Michael said he considered other schools, but chose SIU based on coach Rick Walker’s success, location and family ties to the team.


“It’s not the only place I looked,” Michael said. “I kept my mind really open and it actually came really close between me going to [University at] Buffalo and me going here. I just thought the team was more homey here and I can relate to them better.”

Justin said he did not try and persuade Shaun to come to SIU, so Shaun let Michael make his own decision as well.

“I wanted [Shaun] to make his own decisions whether I was there or not,” Justin said. “I told him I was there if he wanted advice, but I let him make his own decision.”

Shaun said Justin was a big reason he attended SIU because he knew he could comfortably ask for help if he needed it. He said there has never really been actual rivalry swimming against his brothers, but in practice it is game on.

“We all kind of swim different events so there’s not really too much of a rivalry,” Shaun said. “But practicing, you never like to get beat by your brother, so there’s a rivalry there.”

Walker grew up swimming against his own three brothers and said there is always a sibling rivalry, but it is a healthy one. He said he notices slight rivalry between the Wolfe brothers, but they are a team on their own.

“You will find no three more committed to each other and each other’s success than those three,” Walker said.


Michael has won five events in his first two meets. Shaun has won five individual events in his career. Justin won 30 events in his career and qualified for the Olympic trials his junior year.

Justin injured his shoulder after the Olympic tryouts and did not compete his senior year.

“I felt going into my last year I had a good shot at going to NCAA’s and competing on that level,” Justin said. “That was the only other thing I didn’t get to do that I wanted to. I never got any closure on that on my last year, if whether I would have made it or not.”

Walker said the Wolfe brothers’ best swimming trait is that they never give up. He said they are determined, and swim until the end of every race, which is part of the reason Justin was able to qualify for the Olympic tryout “They’ve got kind of a never quit attitude,” Walker said. “They won’t quit until it’s done.”

Michael said he wants to try out for the next Olympics, but knows it is still too far in advance to worry. He said he wants to work with Walker and improve his time to qualify for the tryouts.

Justin said he still follows his brothers and the whole SIU swimming team. He said he would go to as many meets as he can because he is proud of his former program. Justin has worked two years full-time in a manufacturing training program in Jackson, Tenn. He is no longer swimming competitively.

“It’s pretty neat when you look back, especially being an alumni, and seeing that my whole family went through that program and was on the team,” Wolfe said. “It was able to make, in my mind, a progressive step in SIU swimming.”

Aaron Graff can be contacted at [email protected], on Twitter @Aarongraff_DE or 536-3311 ext. 269