Big Ten Champion Paul DeLakis Retires from Swimming, Won’t Pursue 5th Year

Former Ohio State swimmer Paul DeLakis has announced that he will retire from the sport of swimming.

DeLakis posted his decision on Instagram in April, thanking those who were by his side through 17 years of swimming and saying that he’ll “never forget the relationships that (he’s) created through this sport.”

The final meet of DeLakis’ career came at the 2021 NCAA Championships, where he earned First Team All-America honors via a 5th-place finish in the 200 free, and also picked up Honorable Mention awards in both the 200 breaststroke (14th place) and 200 IM (11th place).

DeLakis entered NCAAs off one of the best meets of his career at the Big Ten Championships, swimming best times in the 200 free (1:31.90 – on a relay leadoff) and 200 IM (1:41.71), while just-missing a best time in the 200 breaststroke (1:51.78). He won the 200 free individually and 200 IM, and was 2nd in the 200 breast at that meet.

DeLakis leaves Ohio State with 12 traditional All-America honors, plus an additional 6 from 2020, where the canceled NCAA Championship meet meant that all qualifiers were given All-America honors. He also graduates as a school record holder in the 200 breaststroke, 400 free relay, and 800 free relay.

DeLakis’ retirement announcement means that not only will he not use the 5th year of eligibility granted by the NCAA to all Division I winter sport athletes who competed in the 2020-2021 season, but also that he’ll bypass the upcoming U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.

DeLakis is qualified for Wave I of the 2021 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in the 100 free (50.21) and 200 free (1:50.41), but has opted to turn his focus to optometry rather than train through June.

DeLakis, a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has been accepted into the Illinois College of Optometry. There, he’ll follow in the footsteps of his father, who graduated from the same school 36 years ago and works as an optometrist – a career that DeLakis says he has been wanting since he was 5 years old.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

Looking at his college progress, while he’s insanely fast, he’s +/- flatlined in aggregate performance improvement since 2018. Eg his 200 FR SCY has been 1:32 for 2019 and 2020, and 1:31.9 in 21. Is this flatline typical of the super fast college swimmer?

I’m not intending on being snarky. Seems it’d be hard to work so hard and keep bumping your head against your ceiling

J-Hawk Proud
1 year ago

Congrats on an outstanding career Paul!

1 year ago

Natural body building’s loss is optometry’s gain.

Respect to the guy, hell of a career.

1 year ago

A great leader! Best of luck!!

50 Free Tryhard
1 year ago

more like Paul DeLasik ami right

Reply to  50 Free Tryhard
1 year ago

No you’re not right. LASIK is done by ophthalmologists. Not optometrists.

Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago


Reply to  Rap
1 year ago

Just thought I’d let you know. It takes a lot more intensive training than optometry school to do surgery

Reply to  Rap
1 year ago

Take the L, no need to go in the weeds with you, looks much better high up here.

Kitajima Fan
1 year ago

What an absolute unit. We’ll miss you dude

Reply to  Kitajima Fan
1 year ago

People finally noticing how massive this dude is was one of my favorite storylines at NCAAs this year 🙂

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »