Hyrdo Power! Engineered for Success: WHS Senior Raymond Whittaker Will Attend Purdue University

There will have to be a new category in the Winthrop High Hall of Fame one day: Best Winthrop High Athlete to Never Have Competed for Winthrop High, But Who Went On To Compete in Division 1 College Athletics.

That’s Winthrop High senior Raymond Whittaker, an exceptionally talented swimmer who will be attending Purdue University and competing in the Division 1 Boilermakers’ swimming program. Whittaker competes for the Commonwealth Swimming team.

Winthrop AD Matt Serino rolled out the Blue and Gold carpet for the 6-foot-2-inch scholar-athlete, Raymond Whittaker, with an impressive letter-of-intent signing ceremony in the corridors of the high school.

Flanked by his proud parents, Charlie and Kathy Whittaker, Raymond signed his letter of intent that officially affirms his place in the Purdue University Class of 2026 and the Boilermakers’ swimming program.

Purdue, located in West Lafayette, Ind., is a member of the Big 10, arguably one of the top conferences of schools in the country athletically and academically. Whittaker is an excellent student (4.5 grade point average) and will study in Purdue’s world-class engineering program.

Swimming Career Began next Door in Revere

Whittaker began his illustrious path to Purdue as a swimmer with the Revere Sandsharks at the age of 10 at the Garfield School. He joined Commonwealth Swimming, a regional club based at Simmons College and has been a competitive swimmer there for the past six years.

“Every day it’s fun to be at practice and fun to be working every day, and I’m a very competitive person, so every day I try to do my best and it pushes to me get better every day,” said Whittaker, who is coached by Chris Shepherd.

Becoming a Collegiate Swimmer

Whittaker, 17, began to focus on collegiate swimming a year ago as he consistently performed well in regional and national competitions against the country’s best in his age group. He has been a top-10 swimmer in New England and ranked No. 1 in the breaststroke and individual medley events in the 15-16 and 17-18 divisions.

The academics at Purdue ignited his interest in the school’s engineering school.

“I wanted to major in engineering, and they have a great engineering school, so I emailed the swim coach and thankfully I heard back from him. I visited Purdue the first week of September, went to a football game, and got to attend classes. I really liked the coaches and the school, and it was an easy decision for me.”

Being a Division 1 College Student-Athlete

Whittaker has attended Winthrop schools from K-12 and played Little League and youth football until seventh grade. While some classmates have known about this extraordinary prowess in swimming, it’s become more widely known after he made his decision to attend Purdue.

What’s been the reaction from friends and classmates?

“I’ve had a lot of people congratulate me and it’s been great,” said Whittaker.

The Boilermakers will compete in swim meets against the well-known Big-10 schools such as Ohio State, Michigan, and Indiana.

Whittaker joins an elite group of Division 1 college athletes from Winthrop including Mike Eruzione (BU), Vinnie Eruzione (Holy Cross), Dale Dunbar (BU), John Tiano (RPI), Chucky Sullivan (BU), Steven Staffier (Miami), Mike Brenner (Rutgers), Chris LeBlanc (Merrimack), Rick DiPietro (BU), Maureen McManus (Lafayette), and Lisa Gill Howard (Boston College), among several others.

Support from the Family

Swimming in big-time competitions requires a lot of travel and Whittaker expressed his gratitude to his parents, Kathy and Charlie, a former University of Vermont college athlete, for their support at meets.

“They drove 12 hours over the summer to get down to Greensboro (N.C.) for a meet,” said Whittaker.  “They’ve been super supportive along the whole way. It’s been a big commitment to help me get where I am.”

His sister, Colleen Whittaker, the Class of 2021 salutatorian at Winthrop High, took a similar path toward college sports and now competes for the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) swim team.

The letter-signing ceremony was a momentous occasion for the family.

“He’s worked hard since he was 10 years old, so I’m very proud,” said Kathy Whittaker.

WHS Principal Matt Crombie, who played basketball for the Vikings, said of Whittaker’s matriculation at Purdue, “It’s amazing. I think it’s a reflection of all the hard work that he’s put in over the years into his swimming. What’s equally impressive is how good a student he is at Winthrop High School. He’s one of our top students, very focused academically, very well-rounded, and that’s what we want our students to be at Winthrop High School. We’re really proud of everything’s he’s accomplished.”

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