James Sullivan RHS Athletic Hall of Fame 2010 Inductee

RHS Athletic Hall of Fame

Members of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame are those that have made a lasting impact on the school’s sports program as either student players, coaches, or supporters. Often the student players have continued to influence their chosen sports after high school by ongoing participation in athletics.

James Sullivan, 2010 Inductee

James Sullivan, a 1995 graduate, is one of the top swimmers in the history of Ridgewood High School. Sullivan was ranked 101st in the world in the 1,500-meter freestyle (for all ages) after his junior year, and for three years, he was a captain of the Ridgewood High School swim team.

His senior season, he was named First Team All-County in both the 200 and 500-meter freestyle, winning both events at the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League (NNJIL) meet, and he racked up the most points for his team, as the Maroons finished with a 10-2 record and a third-place showing at the NNJIL meet.

Said Ridgewood head coach Annie Fischer at the time, “James has always been very dedicated to the team. He has shown a lot of leadership and has always been a positive influence on the other kids.”

Sullivan was ranked among the top five college recruits in the nation and was invited to attend the USA Swimming National Team Eagle Camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

In the 1993-94 campaign, Sullivan was the team’s points leader and was First Team All-County in the 200-meter freestyle and Second Team All-County in the 500 freestyle, as Ridgewood placed second at the league meet. He beat out Bergen Catholic’s Kevin Pchola with a time of 1:47.22 for the 200 freestyle championship of the league meet.

In the 1992-93 season, Sullivan was named the Most Valuable Swimmer for the Maroons, who compiled a 10-1 record and had a second-place finish at the league meet. He made Second Team All-County in the 400 relay and Honorable Mention All-County in the 100 butterfly.

As a freshman in the 1991-92 season, Sullivan was named the Most Promising Swimmer for the Maroons (6-5) after being named Second Team All-League in both the 200 and 500 freestyle. While in high school, Sullivan was a four-year captain (1991-95) of the Ridgewood YMCA Breaker swim team. He was a three-time Y National Champion in both the 500 and 1,650 freestyle.

Sullivan also was a Junior National East champion in the 1,500 freestyle and a Senior National finalist.

The summer after his senior year of high school, Sullivan was training to make the Olympic trials cut at the Senior Nationals, but badly injured every muscle in his upper back.

“That ended up slowing down my swimming career,” he said. “I spent freshman year at Princeton University at kicking practice rather than swimming and saw about 100 different doctors. Over the course of the four years, I spent 20-to-30 hours a week in rehab or visiting doctors. By sophomore year, I was splitting my time between kicking and swimming and only able to compete in a limited few meets. It wasn’t until the end of junior year that I had recovered enough and scored a personal best time in the 1,000 freestyle. I was awarded the John Alan Swabey Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the swimmer for their contribution through spirit, sportsmanship and improvement in swimming.”

His senior year at Princeton, Sullivan was elected captain of the swim team. After graduation, he spent several years consulting in the energy industry and then received an MBA from Duke University.

Sullivan is currently a vice president of operations for a national real estate developer and oversees the process of greening/creating eco-friendly apartment communities.

After a long hiatus from swimming, Sullivan has taken it back up and completed the 4.4-mile Chesapeake Bay Swim this summer and plans to do similar races as well as triathlons.

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