Enjoying a great summer despite a small team, the Nassau Swim Club took 2nd place in the PASDA 2 division
YOUNG NASSAU: A group of some of the young stars of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings are all smiles after taking part in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) mini-meet earlier this summer at the community park pool. In the photo, from left to right, Uma Jain, Isabel Colón, Evelyn Colón, Elizabeth Colón, Liliana Brenner-Witten, Tatiana Yanovsky, Daniel Yanovsky and Vladimir Yanovsky. This crew played a key role as the Lemmings went 5-1 in the Division 2 double meet and placed second in Division 2 in the PASDA Championship meeting at CP in late July. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Adlai-Gail)
By Bill Alden
While the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings team only had a crew of 40 this summer, they accomplished a lot.
The team went 5-1 in a dual Division 2 meet in the Princeton Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA), then placed second in Division 2 in the PASDA Championship Meet at the end of July.
“It’s been a really good season for us, the kids have really gained confidence,” Nassau co-coach Rachel Adlai-Gail said. “Last year was a bit tough for them. We still had fun but we lost all our competitions. It was good to see us win something. One of the main things I noticed this summer is how much our kids have improved.
The Lemmings battled hard in the PASDA Championship Meet held at the Community Park Pool, racking up 1,319 points to take second place in Division 2 with Penn Brook scoring 1,352.50 to claim the title .
“I think they definitely get their energy from competition,” said Adlai-Gail, a longtime Lemming who is entering her senior season at Bryn Mawr and competing for their swim team. “We have a fairly competitive team, kids who like to win. I think it’s a great setting for them to thrive. They really liked it, they said, “We’re competing against all the teams. We said, “Yes, all the teams, but you have this.” They competed hard, they enjoyed it.
Adlai-Gail pointed to a pair of 12-and-under boys, Gabriel Colon and Alex Ahlo, as rising to the occasion in the championship encounter. Colon placed second in the 50 freestyle and third in the 50 backstroke and 50 breaststroke while Ahlo was second in the 50 breaststroke.
“Gabriel and Alex came in not knowing all the strokes, swimming was pretty new to them,” Adlai-Gail said. “When they left, both were competitive and placed well in championships.”
For Adlai-Gail, serving as head coach has made for a memorable summer.
“I found my love for swimming through Nassau, I remember having that special sense of community,” said Adlai-Gail, who previously served as an assistant coach for the program. “I always remember the older coaches being so nice to me. I spent all day at the pool, it was definitely a highlight of my childhood. I wanted to continue that feeling for the younger generation of swimmers, so that’s what I did as a coach.
Nassau co-head coach David Cooper, a former Rider University swimmer in his first season with the Lemmings, relished his swimmers’ progress at every level.
“This summer we’ve had a lot of kids swimming only in the summer,” said Cooper, who also coaches the club’s X-Cel program. “They came in and over the summer you see people getting faster, learning new skills. As they become more comfortable with each other, they become more competitive. It was amazing to see; it’s something a lot of teams just don’t have and they took it and ran with it. The reason I loved coaching them this year is the amount of spirit and camaraderie I see in the team. It’s just one big family; it’s one of my core values that I really emphasize and that every sports team should have. I think Nassau models it very well.
The Yanovsky family helped strengthen the Nassau boys team as Vladimir Yanovsky was the 6-and-under boys MVP in the PASDA Championship meet while Daniel Yanovsky played in the 10-and-under boys division and Vasily Yanovsky was the boys’ 14-and-under PASDA MVP.
Vladimir placed first in the boys 6U 25 yard backstroke and 25 freestyle and second in the 8U 25 chest while Daniel took first place in the boys 10U 25 freestyle, 25 butterfly and 100 individual medley and Vasily s ranked first in boys 14 U 50 boobs, 50 free and 100 IM.
“Vladimir had an interest in swimming that really stood out,” Cooper said. “During our marathon swim that we do every year to raise funds, he swam for about an hour straight. You might expect 30 laps from a six-and-under, but Vladimir takes off and swims over a mile. Daniel was always coming to practice, saying can we work on that, can we do a hard kick drill. He always asked for something difficult or challenging.
Adlai-Gail, for her part, was impressed with Vasily’s competitive spirit.
“When we met in Bedens Brook, Vasily came up to me and said, ‘I know it won’t count, but can I also race breaststroke unofficially? I just want to race against Daniel Baytin,'” recalls Adlai-Gail.” I said, ‘Oh yeah. sure you can go that end lane, it’s open. He swam and was great. He loves swimming and he loves competing, you can see that. He wanted to do an extra run and that says a lot.
The Baytin brothers were another key family for the Lemmings. Stephen Baytin placed first in the boys 12U 50 breaststroke, 50 freestyle and 100 IM. Her older brother Daniel, a Princeton High star, finished first in the 18U 50 breaststroke and 100 IM and was second in the 50 freestyle.
“The Baytins are also competing for X-Cel,” Cooper said. “They are very cooperative. They always say, ‘Can I help you here?’ It is a personality trait of the Baytins. They are for the team.
Sawyer Kinney was also a big help for the 14U boys, taking first place in the 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly.
“Sawyer is definitely a longtime loyal Lemming,” Adlai-Gail said. “He’s still in training, he’s been doing it for a long time. He’s one of our older guys, he sets an example for our younger guys. He brings a great energy to our team.
As for the Nassau girls, the Yanovsky sisters brought a lot of energy. Tatiana Yanovsky was second in the girls 8 and under 25 breaststroke, 25 freestyle and 100 IM while Julianna placed second in the girls 12U 50 breaststroke and third in the 100 IM.
“What the two girls had in common was how socially and physically they kind of carried the team,” Cooper said. “Towards the end of practice when you start to tire and everyone is tired, they would be super social and talk to people. They said keep going and we’re going to have fun doing it.
Adlai-Gail liked the drive she saw from Tatiana. “Tatiana is only eight years old and she practices with our older group and has totally followed the 14 and under,” Adlai-Girl said. “She’s very driven and always wants to be around the older kids, that was something really cool to see.”
Uma Jain showed her motivation by placing first in the girls 10U backstroke and third in the 25 freestyle.
“Uma fits in there with Juliana and Tatiana, she works hard,” Cooper said. “I love how coachable she and her older sister Anoushka were, they were always very receptive to criticism during training to improve.”
Juliet Wei and Allison Yu emerged as two of the top swimmers in the girls 14 and under category. Wei was first in the 50 breaststroke, second in the 50 butterfly and 100 IM while Yu placed first in the 50 breaststroke, 50 butterfly and 100 IM.
“Juliet has been a Lemming for as long as I can remember,” Adlai-Gail said, noting that Wei’s older sister Kim was a stalwart for 18U girls this summer.
“She is still a great asset to our team. She’s pretty calm. She really knows how to go out and compete. She and her sister Kim live in New York but they come every summer and swim to Nassau and we love having them.
Newcomer Yu made his debut for the Lemmings. “She’s definitely one of those competitive ones,” Adlai-Gail said, noting that Yu is her neighbor and recruited her to join the team.
“She was great. She was new to the team and was making friends. I asked her how she liked it at the end of the season and she said she had a lot of fun. It was good to bring a new person.
For Adlai-Gail, introducing newcomers to the Lemmings tradition was a lot of fun.
“There is definitely a magical aspect to Nassau; I love it, I call it a little wooded oasis,” Adlai-Gail said. “One of the highlights of this summer for me was seeing new families and new faces experience this magic of Nassau. New families who came here were saying why more people don’t know, Nassau is a place great. Seeing that and having parents tell me at the end of the season that their kid thought their sport was cool. Nassau is that place where you can fall in love with swimming.
Cooper felt that magic in his first season with the Lemmings.
“I’m already planning to come back next year; the team left a really good lasting impression on me with the way the dynamic is,” Cooper said. “Few year-round teams have the dynamic of Nassau, which is so important. It allows the kids to have a good balance between working hard but also having fun and forming lifelong friendships. “together is what families should focus on, not just competing, but having fun in what you do. That’s the part that really stood out.