By Andy Ruvolo
After five months of rigorous practice, endless pool drills and countless hours of dedication, the sharks infested the waters of Erie Community College for the 2013 NJCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. With Coach Carlington Simms (often referred to as “Coach Sea”) leading the way.
In 2012, Suffolk’s Male swimmers placed 7th overall against 16 teams. This year however, things went differently, and the males received 9th place.
Last year, the lady sharks also had more success at the national tournament placing 10th, whereas this year they received dead last. “We simply don’t have enough team members to cover all of the events,” Says Simms. “If we had more swimmers to compete, our chances of winning would increase dramatically.” With only 9 swimmers competing, the sharks were simply outnumbered in the water. In the past, they have overcome this hindrance.
Also in 2012, team member Alberto Catano (21) found success in the Men’s 200 yard backstroke, winning 1st place overall in the 2012 NJCAA Championships. With a well deserved win under his belt, he felt confident that he could out swim his competition this year. Unfortunately, things took a turn in the wrong direction. In the 200 yard back stroke preliminaries, Catano received 4th place. Although it was enough to secure him a spot in the finals, he was disappointed with his performance. “I think it was really hard for him, and took a big toll on his ego” says Rebecca Durston (18,) a fellow swimmer on the team.
When finals came around Catano swam again, this one was for the big win! He was a champion once, but could lightning strike twice? With a new set of competition, and new schools being added to the roster, the odds were against him. He received 6th over all, with a time of six seconds more than his 2012 championship time. In the world of a swimming, six seconds might as well be 6 minutes. “Every second counts”, says Durston.
Despite his disappointment, Catano maintains a positive attitude. He perks up rather quickly when someone brings up the ladies competing from the other schools. “You should have seen the girls at IRSC! Their triceps were practically twice the size of mine! It was amazing! They were pretty hot too.” Unfortunately, Catano will not get the chance to redeem himself next year. “Sadly, students are only allowed to compete for two years because Suffolk is a two year college,” says Coach Sea. But, it’s not over for Catano, as he has plans to swim for SUNY Cortland next year.
Regardless of his standings in 2013, he has become a part of Suffolk history. A banner celebrating his success has been hung on the wall at the Grant Campus’ Health, Sports, and Education Center in his honor. Lightning may not have struck twice, but his 2012 success will go down in Suffolk History. That in itself, is quite the achievement!