Coleman becomes first Central swimmer to sign letter of intent

Ethan Coleman

WOODSTOCK – When Ethan Coleman was a child he wasn’t quite coordinated enough to excel in most sports. Then he gave swimming a try in sixth grade.

Six years later, Coleman, a senior at Central High School, is officially going to continue his swimming career at the collegiate level. In a short ceremony attended by his mother, Lea Ann Overton, Central swim coach Steve Shaffer and a handful of friends and teammates on Monday afternoon, Coleman signed his national letter of intent to swim at Davis & Elkins College next school year.

Coleman, who placed eighth in the boys 200-yard freestyle to earn an all-state medal at the Virginia High School League Group 2A state swim meet back in February and swims year-round with USA Swimming, is the first Central swimmer to sign a college letter of intent, according to Shaffer.

“It’s an honor. It’s one of the first times where I’ve been called the first to do something, so that makes me feel good, I guess,” Coleman said. “I’ve tried to make somewhat of a mark here swimming-wise and I think this was my way of doing it.”

Coleman said he chose Davis & Elkins, a Division II school located in Elkins, West Virginia, over fellow D-2 programs Alderson Broaddus University and Shippensburg University, as well as Division III Ferrum College and Mary Washington University.

Davis & Elkins, coached by Nicole Rose, was the first school to reach out to Coleman about possibly continuing his swimming career in college – “I think it says a lot when somebody shows interest in you rather than vice versa,” Coleman said – and he said his decision was solidified when the school offered a “generous” amount of athletic scholarship money on top of merit scholarships.

Coleman, who wanted to attend a small college, took two visits to the campus. His second visit – an overnight stay with the Davis & Elkins swim team – followed an earlier trip to Alderson Broaddus that same day, and Coleman said he began leaning heavily toward his eventual college of choice after the experience.

“Davis & Elkins was just the crowd that I felt like I fit in with more,” said Coleman, who will study business. “It’s weird because (Davis & Elkins and Alderson Broaddus) are exactly the same, honestly, when you look at them, but the difference was the people.”

In addition to his eighth-place finish in the 200 free at the state meet, Coleman placed 10th in the 500-yard freestyle and swam the third leg of the Falcons’ fifth-place 400 free relay in Christiansburg. The Falcons placed seventh in the state meet and fifth in the Region 2A East competition.

“You have those outspoken leaders, but he just leads by example,” Shaffer said. “He’s in there every day putting time in, but also enjoying the heck out of it. He has an incredible sense of humor, pulls things out of nowhere. But when you’re in an intense workout that’s what is so fun. It breaks the ice.”

Davis & Elkins’ swim team competes in the Bluegrass Mountain Conference. The Senators, who have only been competing since 2010, placed 10th out of 11 teams in the conference meet in February.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com