30 Years of Excellence for New York’s Flushing Flyers

Photo Courtesy: Jennifer Hoffer, YMCA of greater New York

By Tori Caudill, Swimming World College Intern

In the world of swimming, some programs just have a history of great performance over the years. One such team is the Flushing YMCA Flyers, a part of the Greater New York City “Y” Swim League. Not only are they the oldest competitive age group and open swim team in the area, but they have also experienced a lot of growth. Thanks in a large part to an incredible coaching staff, the team has grown to over 200 swimmers from a meager team of 16 boys.

Richard Finkelstein and his five assistants, three of which are Flushing Flyers alumni, have been encouraging the team to grow and excel for 30 years. During this time, both age group and senior team girls have not lost a state meet. The age group boys have won 24 titles, and the senior boys have been either first or second in the same time frame.


Photo Courtesy: Nick Tilas, Flushing Flyers parent

As the swim team heads into the state meet this weekend, where they are hoping to win a 30th consecutive title, the coaching staff took advantage of the knowledge of Olympians, Jason Lezak and Josh Davis, at a Breakout Swim Clinic.

In an interview with New York 1, Lezak stated, ”We teach the kids all the things we learned growing up and some of the tricks that helped us become Olympians.”

The swimmers participate in a day of technique training and learning about what it takes to be an Olympic athlete.

“It’s a great motivator for the swimmers. They have a good time, they enjoy meeting the athletes who are gold medalists, and they get very motivated for our state championships,” said Finkelstein, head swim coach.


The Flyers’ coaching staff poses for a photo with Josh Davis (left, in orange) and Jason Lezak (right, in orange.) Photo Courtesy: Nick Tilas, Flushing Flyers parent

Not only does meeting these Olympians get the team excited, they also get a chance to understand that the life of a professional swimmer is attainable, and much like their own. Many times, young swimmers idolize Olympic athletes, which builds a kind of stigma that their elite level is untouchable. Meeting with young swimmers gives Olympic swimmers the chance to pass on their knowledge and love for the sport to age group swimmers who haven’t yet realized that their dreams of being an Olympic athlete can come true.

“To meet Jason and I and the other Olympians, they say, ‘Oh! They’re just kind of like regular people, normal people, who’ve had extraordinary commitment. Maybe I could do it, too,'” Davis said.

Teaching a swim clinic is not only beneficial to the kids but also the Olympians themselves.  They are reminded of the fun of swimming through the eyes of an age group swimmer.

With the tips from Lezak and Davis fresh in the minds of the age group state team, the Flyers prepare to make waves at the state meet this upcoming weekend.

Flyers will make the trip to Buffalo on March 18 for the New York State YMCA Championship Meet.


Davis and Lezak explaining the next part of a drill set to the age group participants of the Breakout Swim Clinic at the Flyers’ home pool. Photo Courtesy: Nick Tilas, Flushing Flyers parent

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Patrick Brady
Patrick Brady
8 years ago

Good luck at States Fink and all the flyers!!

Joe Ryan
Joe Ryan
8 years ago

Good Luck!!!! Over 4 decades of excellence in coaching Fink! Outstanding legacy

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