Duke University has some 914 representation this fall.
After a stellar high school diving career that spanned two time zones, Yannis Schattman of Cortlandt Manor has started his freshman year at the prestigious university in Durham, North Carolina.
Despite spending only two years of high school in Westchester – where he studied at Hendrick Hudson High School — Schattman became a local diving legend.
At Hen Hud, he won two sectional championships, and was a bronze medalist at the New York State Championships in his freshman year. He competed with the varsity swim & dive team as early as eighth grade.
Schattman traces his earliest memories as a swimmer to the Briarcliff Town Pool, where he met one of his idols in the sport.
“I got referred to [a local diving club] at Purchase College by this kid named Alex DiCaprio,” Schattman said. “He was a really big inspiration for me, because I always wanted to be like him. He was also the reason why I’ve strived to succeed in school and diving. He created this kind of love for the sport because I love watching him dive.”
After meeting DiCaprio, Schattman’s skill as a diver took off to a whole new level. Entering his junior year, he had the opportunity to move hundreds of miles away to Indiana for a prestigious opportunity.
In Indiana, Schattman joined Ripfest Diving Academy, an elite training site that has trained Olympians. At age 16, the Westchester native was jumping into a place that was “renowned amongst the diving community because of its reputation and the divers it produced.”
Moving so far from New York was certainly not easy. In addition to an innate focus on diving, Schattman’s school-life shifted to a completely new education environment.
“It was really tough to balance [school and diving] and it took an extended amount of time to be comfortable with the time management,” recalls Schattman.
“Online school was tough because choosing when to do my work and being able to actually get it done on time is a very mature concept, especially since I was exhausted from a day’s worth of constant physical strain.”
If he wasn’t fully committed to diving before the big move, the period of his life spent in Indiana saw Schattman integrate diving into his life unlike any time previously.
He took as many advanced and AP high school courses as possible to meet the steep eligibility requirements of the elite schools that recruited him.
With the unwavering support of his parents Sandra and Spencer — who still reside in Cortlandt Manor — Schattman thrived as a high school student-athlete. His dreams came true when some of the world’s premier universities showed interest in bringing him on to compete at the next level.
That’s when Duke came calling. Stanford was under consideration as well, as were a handful of Ivy League institutions. But, for Schattman, Duke was the perfect school. “Once I went on my official visit, it was insane,” he said. “It was beautiful. And they have an Olympic coach. I’m just so stoked. And it’s not too far, so I can visit home and some of my friends in Indiana.”
Despite a back injury and surgery in the past year, Schattman remains more than optimistic heading into his freshman season of collegiate diving. His goals for Durham go deeper than diving.
“I want to maintain an intense focus on my schoolwork. I want to manage my time without being overwhelmed by school and diving. And I think [I can do that] by having a good routine, meditating, and having time to relax.”
In the near future, Schattman hopes to obtain his citizenship from Greece, his family’s homeland. Eventually, he would love to compete internationally as a Greek diver.
But regardless of where his collegiate studies or career takes him, Schattman is sure of one thing.
“I love diving, and it’s going to be tough to give it up.”
Alex Horowitz is a freelance writer currently living in New York City. He grew up in Briarcliff Manor, where his family still resides.