Aug. 25, 2011
Laramie, Wyo. -
A proud member of the Cowboy swimming family, Lynn Stetson is WyomingAthletics.com's latest subject of "Where Are They Now." He was one of UW's top student-athletes on the playing field and in the classroom in the early 80's and his since gone on to find the same success in the banking industry.
Over his career Stetson won three Western Athletic Conference individual titles, two in the 1,650 free and one in the 500 free, as well as placing second four times. As a junior, he qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 1,650 free and posted a school record time of 15:23.30 at the meet that still stands today. He also ranks second in two other events in UW's record book, while still holding two WAC and a Corbett Pool record. Stetson helped guide the Cowboys to a 47-9 dual meet record during his career, as the team finished as high as second and no worse than fourth at the WAC Championships.
Academically, Stetson was named an NCAA Scholastic All-American and a Rhodes Scholar finalist for boasting a 3.8 grade-point average while majoring in finance. He also earned an NCAA post-graduate scholarship.
Give us a background of your career and life after you left the University of Wyoming.
Stetson: Since graduating from UW in May 1983, I attended Indiana University's MBA program (Aug 1983 - May 1985) on an NCAA post-graduate scholarship awarded based upon my academic and athletic achievements at UW. I then joined Continental Bank in Chicago in June 1985 and, while being acquired twice, I have effectively been with the same organization (Bank of America) for 26 years now. My wife, Kathleen, and I lived in the city of Chicago for a few years prior to moving to the adjoining suburb of Park Ridge in 1990 where, with the addition of kids, we have had multiple turns of community involvement with schools, school boards, church boards, Indian Scouts and multiple coaching assignments on various playfields. Our only time away from Park Ridge was the five years we spent in London.
You are currently a Vice President for Bank of America, please explain your duties that are involved with that job.
Stetson: Currently, I am a Senior Vice President and Senior Risk Executive at Bank of America. I actually have a dual role at present. I have one team that has re-written and restructured our credit policy and governance across all of our global lines of business - consumer, wealth management and commercial. In addition, I have another team that approves our commercial credit risk exposure to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch global investment bank's industrial, sports and gaming clients in North America.
Stetson: In my 26-year career, the most memorable assignment has easily been the nearly five years we spent in London from Aug 2005 to Jun 2010. From a professional perspective, gaining an international perspective by managing a team that approved credit exposure to all our Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asian corporate clients, serving on the board of our European credit card business and serving as the Chief Risk Officer of BAC's EMEA and Asian businesses was an outstanding intellectual challenge. We arrived in 2005 with the global economy in strong condition and stayed through a very difficult economic correction which also included the acquisition of Merrill Lynch, an organization 5 times larger than what BAC was in EMEA and Asia.
From a personal perspective, our family took every advantage of this offshore assignment. We stayed at the Ice Hotel north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden sleeping on beds of ice (primed by Winter camping in the Snowies), enjoyed traversing the forested hillsides on our own dog sleds as well as taking in the wonder of the Northern Lights. We also enjoyed trips to a couple of areas where, unfortunately, tourists may have to take a pause. When viewed in person, Egypt's Great Pyramids and King Tut's tomb along with Jordan's Petra are unmatched marvels of man. The family also enjoyed immersing ourselves in local culture whether the small hotels and neighborhoods of Istanbul or the family backyard setting of a cooking school on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Kath and I also had the honor of attending a charitable gathering and dinner at Buckingham Palace hosted by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall - a wonderful experience and a fun "house" to explore!
You majored in finance at the University of Wyoming. How did that prepare you for your career?
Stetson: My Bachelor's in Finance at UW has been a professional advantage to me since I left in 1983. First, while not recommending students go straight to grad school (1983 was at the tail end of another deep recession), the preparation from UW into my Indiana Master's was very strong. Working at an investment bank, the grounding in finance and accounting is something I continue to use every day. Importantly, just as I recall great professors like UW's Ron Spahr conveying the world of finance is evolutionary, continuing education is a must, and much of that must come at your own initiative. Interestingly, I will be a professional mentor for an international online class at the University of Illinois this fall. We will skype with our student who may be located offshore and coach them on a real life project at their place of business. Technology has greatly influenced the learning process and I am fortunate to be able to have opportunities like this to keep my own knowledge up to date.
Being from Illinois, what made you choose to attend the University of Wyoming?
Stetson: As a high school swimmer, I was recruited like many other student athletes. As the third of four siblings that each swam for my Dad at the age group and high school level, I also was introduced to UW by my next older brother, Todd, a UW standout (1976-80) and team captain himself. Enjoyment of the outdoors and our family camping vacations in the West combined to lead Todd to explore various Rocky Mountain universities. Knowing the family connection, Coach Frank Vicchy also recruited me and stressed many of the excellent academic reputations UW offered. The combination sold me as well.
Tell us a little about your wife and kids.
Stetson: My wife Kathleen and I will have been married 23 years this fall. We met at work where we sat next to each other for two years before the spark ignited! Kath retired when we decided to begin our family. We have two kids, Clare, a second year student at Southern Illinois University, and Griffin, a 16 year old high school junior. Clare and Griff were able to enjoy our London posting at an age where these experiences will become a part of who they are and how they think about events and people - for that, Kath and I are very grateful.
What are your fondest memories of your time at UW, both swimming and overall?
Stetson: As mentioned, UW provided a rock solid education. As any that have earned their college degree and the advantages it provides, it was clearly the foundation for much of what I have been able to achieve and experience professionally. In addition, my time at UW introduced me to a roommate, best man, and great, great friend whom I just visited this past June - Chuck Horton (1979-84, including redshirt year), another UW Swim Team Captain. Other great teammates, coaches and friends remain and I converse with one of my younger teammates, Coach Tom Johnson, a few times a year. The experiences at UW included lots of fun both outside the classroom and pool, notably enjoying the unparalleled natural surroundings. Fun experiences like softball games at Vedauwoo, full moon cross country skiing on the plains or camping in the Snowies just aren't available on most US college campuses.
As for the swim team, I can remember getting to Corbett Pool early one morning for practice and the doors were still locked. Not a big deal, but a heavy snow was swirling and the temperature was single digits at best and I stood in a corner, face to the wall, to best protect myself. Thankfully coach showed up in about five minutes so that I could don my Speedo and jump in a pool by 6:30 a.m.! Distance swimmers practiced every morning from 6:30 to just before 8:00 a.m. and then the entire team reassembled from about 3:30 to 6 or 6:30 p.m. Weight training also fit in within our academic schedule. All of this established a discipline, begun in high school, that I tend to apply to most things today. Travel to meets and our two-week Christmas training trips were always great fun where we all worked hard and many times laughed harder. While swimming is an individual sport, lap after lap in the pool is easier with teammates than a solo slog. Achieving personal bests in your special events is always a tremendously satisfying experience, but individual events are part of a swim meet competed by a team. When that team succeeded, that always felt great.
How do you feel that after almost 30 years your school record in the 1,650-freestyle still stands? As well as still ranking in the top three of both the 1,000-free and 500 free?
Stetson: A school record still intact for 30 years isn't exactly holding to the notion that records are made to be broken. I do remember that swim at the WAC Championships my junior year. It was a 1,650 that felt like I was on a strong first 100 the entire mile. What a great feeling. I am sure Coach TJ will put together the right training to soon bring one of the current Cowboys in well ahead of that time. Interestingly, since college swimming introduced 50s in the strokes, there is a natural emphasis on recruiting more sprinters and stroke specialists to score points at championship meets. The 500 has virtually become a "conditioned sprint", so true distance specialists have become a rare breed. I wish we would have had a 5,000! The spectators wouldn't be so keen, but the Olympics added an open water longer distance event and it was a big success held in the rowing venue.
Do you still follow Wyoming Swimming and Diving?
Stetson: I do still follow the team and, as mentioned, send notes to TJ every once and awhile. Todd and I actually met TJ and the team down at Notre Dame a handful of years ago. Athletic budgets are tight so I understand travel is difficult for a relatively large team. Thankfully, the internet and the UW websites are quite good at providing overall background of the program and the team as well as timely articles throughout the season. Tom Johnson has been an excellent coach and ambassador for the University and UW swimming and I look forward to following future successes. Unfortunately, I learned the news of Dave Schmitt's tragic death this past May on the website. What a very difficult time for his family and his young UW teammates.
Do you still wear your Wyoming apparel?
Stetson: I have been back to (a quieter) campus twice during summer trips to the Rockies. The continued improvements and enhancements to campus are evidence of a great commitment to higher education by the people of the state of Wyoming as well as the strong guidance of UW's administration and faculty. And yes, I still proudly wear UW apparel - a few t-shirts, hat, etc. Some of the letter jackets are a bit snug these days! Also, college logos and apparel are big overseas - I saw a UW jersey in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul!
Is there anything else that you think fans would be interested to know about you or your family?
Stetson: Since I met my wife when I was 25, one of the things I enjoy most about her is that she is completely oblivious to my "swimming career" and keeps me living in the present, not satisfying myself with past accomplishments. It was great to be a part of UW athletics and to have enjoyed success, but it is the academic foundation and the personal growth that I value most from my UW experience and what has formed the basis for the direction I have traveled since May 1983.