Senior John Lytle has been setting records as a swimmer since his freshman year at Notre Dame, but swimming had been a huge part of his life long before he became a part of the Fighting Irish. Because both of his older siblings swam competitively, Lytle has been around the sport since he was very young.
“As a younger sibling, I was always stuck attending their swim meets, so it made sense to just take part in the swimming instead of watching from the stands,” Lytle says. “If it weren’t for my brother and sister swimming, who knows if I would have ever started.”
Lytle grew up in Clearfield, Pa., and says being the youngest gave him the benefit of knowing “what mistakes to avoid.” The age gap between both his older siblings and himself made it possible for their success to motivate him, but kept competitiveness from straining their relationships.
Lytle says his family has always cheered for Notre Dame. He and his siblings watched the athletic teams since they were kids, and that led to his desire to attend the University himself one day.
“I had always been a Notre Dame fan,” Lytle says. “Growing up, I watched Notre Dame football on Saturdays with the family. To me, Notre Dame is a great blend of academics, athletics, and tradition. Notre Dame is place where you can learn a great deal about subject matter as well as learn about yourself and become more mature.”
His brother, Brian, and sister, Megan, both swam at Westminster College, and Lytle says the familiarity he had with the school made him consider following in their footsteps.
“I considered Westminster for a short while, but I had always dreamed of coming to Notre Dame,” he says. “Westminster was a place that I felt very comfortable with because I had visited it often and experienced many swim meets involving the team. Also, it was nice to have met the coach and have formed a relationship with him through my brother and sister. In the end however, I couldn’t pass up on the dream to attend Notre Dame.”
He still has much support from his brother and sister in their shared sport. In his junior and senior years of high school, Lytle’s brother was the assistant coach of his swim team. Even now, he says their ability to relate to his experiences encourages him as a swimmer.
“It is helpful in knowing that when I talk about swimming, my brother and sister will know what I am talking about,” Lytle says. “Having each swam their entire lives, they understand what happens and they understand all of the hard work that goes into practices and meets.”
As the youngest, Lytle has certainly felt pressure by having siblings come before him. Achieving success after them has been important to him, but Lytle is grateful for what swimming has meant to him as an individual.
“I felt a little pressure being the youngest sibling just because I wanted to always beat the times that my sister, and especially brother, had achieved growing up,” he says. “After a while though, I realized that I couldn’t put too much weight on focusing on them and had to become my own person.”