Fordham Swimmer Steve Sholdra Leads with Contagious Passion

Photo Courtesy: Steven Sholdra

By Siobhan Dale, Swimming World College Intern

If you walked into Steve Sholdra‘s dorm room at Fordham University you would immediately reach three conclusions. First, that he’s quite a good decorator; second, he has a close-knit group of friends seen in the pictures on his wall; third, he is a swimmer.

The term “swimmer” seems almost tired when applied to Steve. Surely, there should be a better quality description for a person with a 4.0 G.P.A., one previously held and one current Atlantic 10 Conference Record, one A-10 silver medal, two A-10 bronze medals and four Conference Championship individual titles. Describing Steve as your average swimmer doesn’t exactly embody these accomplishments.


Steve smiles. Swimmer is exactly the label he wants to stick with. In fact, Steve seems more interested in talking about the people in the pictures than himself. Describing the people he’s swam with and what they have taught him he states:

“From my four years here at Fordham I would say that I’ve learned leadership is one of the most important qualities there is on a team.”

As a freshman Steve explains that he looked up to the seniors and juniors on the team.

“I’ve used them as an example for how I train and act all through my time here,” he added.

It’s easy to see that Steve himself is now that inspirational senior to the team. When I asked him if he thought he was admired more for the medals he won or for something else entirely he takes a minute.

“I don’t know,” he responds at last.

Not receiving an answer from Steve himself I turned to some of his teammates to ask what exactly it was that explained the impact Steve had on them. Was it seeing a fellow teammate stand on the podium multiple times? Was it training with a person who seemingly never fails to make an interval? Or was it something more?

“Steve was my example through the year,” teammate Marie Feneron said. “He is so passionate and confident about swimming that it always pushes me to be a better swimmer and want more.”

Teammate John Furlong added, “Steve leads by example everyday in practice and the whole team always feeds off his positive energy.”

Speaking on my own behalf I credit Steve for helping to create the welcoming and friendly atmosphere Fordham Swimming and Diving prides itself on. Although Steve has the determined and competitive mindset needed to become an accomplished swimmer part of his work ethic involves sharing encouragement with others.

His motivation isn’t derived from yelling at his teammates to “work harder.” Instead he manages to be positive even when facing the toughest events. When I asked him what he did to get through swimming the 200 fly and the distance free in one day I was expecting a long answer about the courage and commitment it takes. Alternatively, Steve simply told me that he sang songs to himself all through the race. I responded that a few lyrics of pump up music couldn’t possibly be all it took. He laughed and told me that all I needed to do was try it next time to see what I was capable of.

On the podium Steve stands as a symbol for everything an athlete wishes to accomplish. On the pool deck he stands as a teammate reminding you of your own potential.

Where does Steve derive these qualities needed for leadership?

“We were talking during A-10’s and Steve was saying how the crowd influenced him. Not just the parents watching but also his teammates,” teammate Alex Esterine-Reid explained. “All of them cheering him on was what forced him to push himself to go faster and eventually win. I think that’s the most inspiring thing Steve has ever said to me and it changed my perspective on both swimming and diving.”

Inspiration isn’t just that person standing on the podium– it’s the people positioned next to it, cheering the recipient on. It’s not just the swimmer in the pool racing to the conference record, it’s his teammates screaming at him from the side.

Steve told me a lot about what he learned from his four years at Fordham University. But because of Steve I have had the chance to learn just as much in one year. Steve taught me that inspiration is circular. And that very knowledge is what makes a person like Steve so motivating. He inspires us to become inspirations, not just for others, but for ourselves.


  1. avatar
    Heidi Wills

    What a fantastic article about a truly inspiring person. Steve Sholdra embodies human excellence in so many ways, both inside and outside of swimming.

  2. avatar
    Alan trevithick

    And a very good student too, is Steve Sholdra. Good luck with everything.
    Dr. Alan Trevithick, Fordham U.