By Kaeley Steinnagel
CONNECTICUT swimmer, Nikki Giampolo, passed away on January 1, 2002.
Nikki, who was 15, had been battling bone cancer for six months. She attended RHAM High School in Hebron and was an honor student, accomplished flute player, and runner. She was the president of her freshman class, and one of the top five cross country runners for her school, qualifying for Class and State meets.
Nikki began swimming with the Windham Seals before coming over to the Laurel East Hartford YMCA, LEHY, at the age of nine. Nikki was a one-of-a-kind swimmer: she always thought she was kicking, when in reality her feet never moved. This was the true sign that she was a natural breaststroker. She was one of the top breaststrokers in the state, qualifying for the CT Zone Team and YMCA Nationals in her specialties.
More noticeable on the pool deck was her personality: always smiling, always acting crazy, always being a true friend. She gave every swim 100% effort and was always there for her teammates.
She also did this "thing." None of us could ever understand how, but she did it. She would get down on all fours and walk like a tiger. Her shoulder blades would pop so far up that she truly looked like a tiger or lioness. Her team spirit was also amazing, sporting the team colors with "curlies" in her hair, paint on her face, marker on her arms, and fingernail polish to match.
If we have learned one thing from Nikki, it is perseverance. When the going got rough, Nikki got going. Her presence on the pool deck will be sorely missed, but her memory and spirit will never be forgotten. She has touched the lives of people all over the state. She will be LEHY and Connecticut Swimming’s guardian swimmer.
The support that Connecticut Swimming, Connecticut swimmers, coaches, and families have shown for Nikki, her family, and LEHY has been overwhelming. There are not enough words to say Thank You.
Anyone interested in making a donation in Nikki's memory can make it to:
Children’s Cancer Fund
Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Foundation
12 Charter Place
Hartford, CT 06106