By Mary Boone
Tag Veal ’05 and Thomas Ciesielski ’05 couldn’t be more alike—or more different.
The pair of four-year swim team members look like a modern-day Mutt and Jeff. Veal stands 5-foot-6 and specializes in longer events, winning first-place in the league in the 100 butterfly and 200 butterfly, and second place in the 500 freestyle. Ciesielski is 6-foot-6. A sprinter, he won 2004-2005 conference titles in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, and 100 backstroke.
“Thomas is tall enough that when he dives in the pool, he’s already halfway across it,” jokes Veal. “Yeah, and swimming the 200 or 500 would be like running a marathon for me,” says Ciesielski. “I’m not about distance.”
Physical attributes and swimming specialties aside, it’s the similarities between the pair that made them friends.
Along with Cory Wynhof ’05, the two served as swim team captains during their senior season. They co-founded the university’s Breakfast Club, a campus current-events discussion group. They both majored in the sciences, Veal in chemistry and Ciesielski in biology. They both have more academic honors and awards than you can shake a diploma at, including an NCAA postgraduate scholarship for Ciesielski—one of only 174 in the nation. And now, they’re both heading off to medical school.
“They’re alike in that they both have natural ability, work ethic, and competitive spirit,” says head swim coach Chris Myhre.
Though the two didn’t race in the same events, Ciesielski and Veal say their personalities ensured they were always looking for a way to out-swim, outwork, or outwit each other.
“It was a healthy kind of competition,” says Ciesielski. “During the season, we were swimming 17 to 20 hours a week, so the competition helped keep things interesting.”
Now the young men say they’re eager to return to Puget Sound for student-alumni swim meets.
“The alumni always win,” says Veal.
“Yeah, but they cheat,” says Ciesielski. “I can’t wait to be one of them.”