By Swimming World Intern Natasha Mascarenhas
PISCATAWAY, New Jersey. January 11. STARTING off the 2014 CeraVe invitational right, the North Baltimore Aquatic Club had many wins on Friday. The team wasted no time in establishing their strength, with impressive times and a drive to win.
But the success North Baltimore had wasn’t just a stroke of luck. One of the reasons the team was able to do so well was Coach Erik Posegay’s pep talks, usually given during meals.
“We always eat together as a team during the meet,” said 17-year-old Sarah Sulkowski. “While we’re eating, Coach usually gives us a pep talk and tells us what we did well and what we need to work on.”
Sulkowski explained that Posegay especially congratulated those who participated in the 800 freestyle relay. Relays are of high importance to North Baltimore Aquatic Club, so the win by the girls (8:19.06) and the second place achievement by the boys (7:56.05) was celebratory news. Posegay also talked about how the team should strive to push forward through the rest of the meet.
Other than the coach pep talks, North Baltimore also owes their success to personal pep talks that occur underwater. It may sound weird, but it worked for Karly Zungailia, 15, who placed second in the C finals for women’s 100 breaststroke (1:18.71). She beat her preliminary time of 1:21.18.
“While I swim, I just tell myself that I can push past the person who is in front of me,” explained Zungailia. “I might be tired, but just telling myself to work harder can really make a difference.”
Grace Hansen, 16, also used this technique to make her swim faster. She participated in three races: the 100 breast, 200 IM and the 100 fly. During the race, she tells herself to enjoy the pain and push past everyone’s expectations.
Sulkowski, Hansen, and Zungailia all agreed that along with the pep talks, the screaming from parents and spectators helps them finish the race.
“The screams might not all necessarily be for me. But who cares? I just pretend every cheer is for me, and it helps me to do my best,” Zungailia said with a smile.
The talent within the team is obvious, with passionate high school swimmers striving to continue the legacy left by Michael Phelps and others. With this in mind, there lies much more under the surface of this solid team.