With all sports eyes patiently waiting for the opening of the summer Olympics in Rio next week, it’s a pleasant surprise to learn that some of the athletes who will grace the world stage are often homegrown right here on Long Island. Two such future Olympic hopefuls are diligently training for their place on the Olympic team and have even made it all the way to this year’s trials.
Long Island Aquatic Club (LIAC) swim students Maggie Aroesty and Kristen Romano recently knocked on the Olympic door, making it all the way to the Olympic trials. Both girls logged their personal best times in the 200m individual medley at the event.
Aroesty earned a coveted spot in the semifinals, moving up from the 20th place seed, to 7th place. Her time of 2:13.99 was the fastest swim by any woman 18 and under at the meet. Originally seeded 30th in the 100m breaststroke event, Aroesty swam a best time, but missed qualifying for the semifinal by .05, moving up to 18th place. Romano’s swim in the 200m individual medley earned 41st place.
100 swimmers make the trials; 16 go to the semifinals; eight swimmers move to the finals and only two made the U.S. Olympic Team.
“It’s quite an accomplishment for a high school girl,” said Dave Ferris, codirector of LIAC in Garden City, along with Ginny Nussbaum. “Maggie and Kristen got to the trials; they were wide-eyed and they’ve never swam in front of so many people, more than 14,000 people and with TVs and cameras and music…they work very hard and did an absolute wonderful job.”
No high school swimmers made it to this year’s U.S. swim team, but Ferris said Aroesty was one of the highest placing high school swimmers at the trials. “She’s in a good position going forward; she’s got the first one under her belt,” Ferris said, assuring that she’ll be going for it again.
Ferris explained that the Olympics are now dominated by post-collegiate athletes. He said the average age of prime Olympic athletes is now closer to 30 years old, which makes this an amazing accomplishment for two girls in high school.
LIAC has been grooming Olympic swimmers since the 1990s, and especially in 1996, when four of its swimmers made it to the trials.
“They [Aroesty and Romano] came back from the Olympic trials; they had a day off and immediately went back to training; back to work,” said Ferris. “Our swimmers often go on to represent this country in the world championships in the Pan Am championships in the World University games.” Aroesty is doing just that; she’s on her way to the Pan Pacific Games in Hawaii to compete in the junior level events.
LIAC’s Long Island Swim School is located in Garden City; its Long Island Swim Academy is in Syosset and the LIAC team trains in Eisenhower Park.
Visit www.longislandswimming.com for more information include swim classes and team information.