taten Island, N.Y. — Recently, 150 swimmers, coaches, their families and friends went to the movies.
Coach Nikolay Shevchenko, co-founder Avantis Swimming Academy and the phenomenal swim coach and Associate a program Director at of the Richmond Aquatics Club at the Bernikow JCC, organized the group for an exclusive screening of the movie, “Touch the Wall,” at the UA-16 movie theatre in Travis.
There are 130 swimmers for the Richmond Aquatics Club at the JCC and over 300 members for the Avantis Swim Academy, ages 3-80.
All the fun, camaraderie, and popcorn aside, the movie will no doubt stay with the young people for a long time. Why? Well, first, they got to stay out late on a school night with teammates.
And second, “Touch the Wall” — a documentary about two swimmers, Missy Franklin and Kara Lynn Joyce, who both swam in the 2012 London Olympics — validated their sport and all they’ve devoted to it for most of their young lives.
Coach Nikolay, the ever-tough, always fair, and undeniably excellent coach to RAC swimmers agrees that “Touch the Wall” reminded the RAC swimmers to stay the path, that dreams do come true if you work hard.
In a sport where the practices seem endless and brutally hard — swimming an average of 7,000 yards over two hours, or 280 laps, every day, sometimes at 5:30 in the morning, other times until 9 o’clock in the evening — a movie that chronicles the struggles of two young athletes who started out just as all swimmers do, on their school swim teams, is invaluable.
Claudia McLaughlin, Aquatics Director at the Bernikow JCC said, ” ‘Touch the Wall’ was a great film, not only for swimmers, but for all athletes. The dedication of these two athletes on their path to the Olympics was inspirational.
“Missy Franklin grew up learning to swim, and practiced much like our swimmers do, made our swimmers realize they can achieve a lot more with hard work and dedication. Watching Kara Lynn’s path, [which did not result as successfully as Franklin’s], you also see heartbreak and how things do not always turn out like you want.”
You see, as a mom of three swimmers, I know swimmers put in endless hours of practice each day, each week, each month. Like my own three children, most of them swim year-round — for a CYO league, for USA Swimming, and for Interclub Summer Swim.
Not that I’m complaining, because my three kids love it. Positively and absolutely.
But sometimes, although we hate to admit it, we parents wonder, what’s it all about?
So many hours in the water, so many trips back and forth in one day, week in and week out, so much money in lessons and competition suits that cost upwards of $300, only to compete in events that usually last under a minute, not to mention swim meets last about eight hours in a steamy aquatics center with an overwhelming chlorine smell, if you’re lucky enough to have kids in both morning and afternoon sessions. Ack!
Well, “Touch the Wall” reminded everyone, especially tired moms like me, why we do it, why drag ourselves to meets all over the NYS and the Eastern seaboard. Why we sacrifice family parties and sleeping late on the weekend for practices and meets.
The five main reasons: First, because our kids love it. Second, because they’re good at it. Third, because they’re willing to put in the work to get better. Fourth, became we parents are willing to support their love for swimming. And finally, because dreams do come true. And as parents, we want our children’s dreams to become reality.
” ‘Touch the Wall’ should be required watching for competitive swimmers. Watching Missy Franklin’s journey was inspirational,” said Jerry Gibbons, head coach at RAC. ” Swimming, like any sport, has its ups and downs along the way. There are lessons in her struggles in this documentary.”
Added Albert Finkelshteyn, co-founder of Avantis Swim Academy, “The movie was outstanding and truly moving. It is all about the focus and commitment. I hope our swimmers got inspired and will apply the shown principles in their swimming space and lives.”
And this is the message that Coach Nikolay Shevchenko wanted to reinforce in his swimmers: that through hard work and dedication and overcoming obstacles, every swimmer can achieve success in the swimming pool, and in life.
“When I found out I had the wonderful opportunity to organize a special screening of ‘Touch the Wall,’ I had to do it because I love my students and I was inspired by the idea of inspiring them,” said Coach Nikolay.
“I wanted my swimmers and their parents to watch on the big screen the lessons I’m trying to drill in during every practice: that to become the best, you must work and you must be dedicated. There is an enormous amount of commitment involved to be the best on the local, national, and international stages.”
Or in this case, pool.
And Coach Nikolay’s swimmers have enjoyed impressive achievements (see side bar). Ever modest, he shares their success with the RAC’s head coach, Jerry Gibbons and AquAtics Director, Claudia McLaughlin, who’ve both been receptive and supportive of his innovative ideas.
Coach Nikolay adds, “As a team, we are moving toward the direction of unity and success. 2014 was a banner year because of our talented swimmers, supportive parents and incredible coaches. And this is just the beginning.”
For more info Richmond Aquatics Club and Avantis Swim Academy, please log onto: www.avantissa.com and www.richmondaquaticsclub.com
About Coach Nikolay Shevchenko
Nikolay Shevchecnko is founder of Avantis Swimming Academy also Associate Program Director and USA Swimming Coach at Richmond Aquatics Club of Staten Island JCC, Shevchenko has been mentored by many of the most successful, well known leaders and athletes in the world.
Over 10 years as a Private Technique Coach working with swimmers of every level.
Over 2.5 years of USA Swimming Coaching Experience
Member of American Swimming Coaches Association
Selected Metro Zone Team Coach of 2014 (Short Course and Long Course Seasons)
Selected Coach for Metro All Stars Training Camp 2014 under the guidance of Olympic Coach Sergio Lopez Miro and Olympic Swimmer Peter VanderKaay
Selected Coach for Metro Annual Outreach Swimming Clinic 2014 with Olympic Swimmers – Doug Lennox and Brett Fraiser
Coach’s award at 11th Annual Redtails International Invitational Swim Meet
Russian Junior Nationals Winner
US and Russian Nationals Qualifier
US Open Qualifier
NCAA US Nationals Winner
Certified Member of the All-America Collegiate Swimming Team
Over 25 years of competitive swimming experience
Achievements of his RAC swimmers (These and other swimmers are consistently appear on Metro Top-25 Chart):
Coach Nikolay for less than 2 years prepared numerous of swimmers for the highest age group USA Swimming Competitions:
Metro Zone Team 2014 Qualifiers: Angelica Mroczek, Tatiana Mroczek, Ava Nobile, Yousef Osman
IM Xtreme Games 2014-2015 Qualifiers:
10 & Under: Matthew Finkelstein, Shawn Lokshin, Alice Wei
11-12: Grace Adams, Nicholas Evenko, Thomas Malloy, Tatiana Mroczek, Ava Nobile, Yousef Osman, Alec Tatynskiy, Maxim Kleyer
13-14: Danielle Cianciotto, Isabella Nicholson, Elena Uttaro
Why do you coach?
“I coach because In my own swimming career, I had about seven outstanding coaches who worked with me. They gave me tremendous knowledge and perspective on how to succeed,” said Coach Nikolay. “They gave me experience in setting goals and tools needed to reach them. And I want to do the same for my swimmers.
“I’m grateful to the Bernikow JCC because they’ve given Me and Avantis Swim Academy the opportunity to develop a program that benefits so many swimmers, from learn to swim, to technique development, to ‘elite’ swimmers.”