Wilmington native to compete in Olympic Trials for a chance on Team USA

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – As he dives into the adventure of a lifetime, 18-year-old Sean Setzer is gearing up to take on the best in the nation.

“The goal is really just to be the best I can be,” he said.

Fresh off his graduation from Ashley High School, Setzer’s skillset and strength punched his ticket to the Olympic Trials.

On Monday, Setzer and his coach David Sokolofsky from Waves of Wilmington headed to Indianapolis, Indiana, where the 2024 U.S. Swim Team Trials will take place.

“Being the first one from my swim team to swim at the Olympic Trials…it definitely feels pretty good,” Setzer said.

When he found out the news that he was making it to the trials, Setzer says it felt surreal.

“I’m just super excited. I was pretty speechless. It was just a great moment,” he said.

Sokolofsky agrees, saying Setzer is a role model for all.

“It’s really cool to see this for our program, for our team, for his peers, and for all the younger kids who are swimming in the pool right now that have someone to look up to,” he said.

Born and raised in Wilmington, Setzer says swimming isn’t about titles and championships. He finds it therapeutic.

“I can just shut down everything that is happening in my life and I can just focus for an hour or a half two hours in the pool,” he explained.

It’s his focus, particularly on his stellar freestyle and breaststroke, that clinched him a spot in Indianapolis.

“For him to make the trials cut, it’s been nothing short of remarkable. It’s been a long journey for him,” Sokolofsky said.

Sokolofsky says at just 18 years old, making the trials is rare.

“There’s probably not a lot of male high school athletes making the Olympic Trial meet, so for him to do that is pretty impactful for himself, for the community, for the team, and a really good mark for Wilmington,” he said.

Setzer told WECT he knows it will be tough, but he’s not going just to keep his head above the water.

“Right now, I’m just taking it one thing at a time. I think that it will help me be the best I can be as I get older, but anything can really happen,” Setzer said.

Setzer is off to swim with UNC Chapel Hill in the fall.

He swam on Tuesday, but did not make the cut for the semifinals in the 100-meter freestyle. On Thursday, Setzer will compete in the 50-meter freestyle.

You can watch the qualifying rounds on Peacock and the finals on WECT News.