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Staying In The Lane Of Success

How swimming shaped Coach Sullivan’s life

To say swimming is in Anne Sullivan’s blood is an understatement. Not only does Sullivan coach the boys’ and girls’ swimming teams at Garden City High School, but she also teaches swimming five days a week at Richmond Hill High School in Queens. She has been teaching for 18 years and coaching for even longer, as she puts it “for more than half my life.”

 

Sullivan is a previous student and 1972 graduate of Garden City High School, and she began her swimming career at the Garden City pool. When asked why she chose swimming to invest her life in, she accredited her father, who was also a swimmer. He introduced her to the sport, enabling her to discover her love and talent for it. It’s this dedication that found Anne Sullivan becoming the recent recipient of the Community Achievement Award at the Pineapple Ball, Garden City’s premiere business and social event.

 

When asked what she enjoys about coaching, Sullivan is fairly straightforward. 

 

“I like the challenge that’s put before me. What I like about it is that the kids want to swim for me, and when they come I have variability. Some kids prefer to be in the year-round program, while others don’t.” Sullivan explained that the younger kids begin swimming in the 7th grade, giving them 3 to 4 years to “break out into their own” and hone their skills. 

 

“I like watching that growth,” she said. Sullivan had similar feelings regarding her Queens students, some of whom have never been in water prior to taking her classes. “Some of them will buck you or tell you they aren’t getting in the pool. But eventually you see the progress.”

 

Addressing the difficulties of being a swim coach, Sullivan stated that training can be an issue due to the absence of a pool at the high school. The children practice three mornings a week at Adelphi

University to make up for this. With all of the swim meets and practices being away, this can mean early mornings and late nights for the students. “Sometimes we may not get home until 10,” Sulivan said. “And the kids need to balance their studies with their athletics.”

 

Balance can be a difficult thing to achieve with such long days. However, Sullivan boasts of impressive grades, especially on the girls’ team. In fact, the team was acknowledged for having one of the highest averaged GPAs in the country. In addition, Sullivan claims that her swimmers are also musically and artistically inclined, proving to be a well-rounded and hardworking group. The schedule can be rough on the coach as well. “It makes my day a lot longer,” she said. “But I make it work. I’m in it for the kids.”

 

Sullivan’s job doesn’t end with swimming either. As a coach, she finds that she must teach her kids non-swimming related lessons, which aid them as a team member and will also prepare them for the future. “I give them structure,” she stated. “I give them a sense of responsibility. I expect them to get themselves up if they want to be a part of the team. And if they get sick, I don’t want to hear from parents. They call me.” Sullivan assures that her swimmers are punctual as well, an important quality in any area of life. Furthermore, she makes sure that the kids learn that there will be good and bad days, in swimming and in life. “It’s only going to get harder as you get older,” she said. “And it’s alright. Losing makes you a better person.” 

 

Among some of the proudest moments in Sullivan’s career are the 103 consecutive meets she’s won in the girls’ season, an impressive feat for any sports coach. She has also seen multiple swimmers on her team take state championships including one girl, a freestyler, who won the championship for three consecutive years. Additionally, Sullivan mentioned a competition in which the boys’ swim team defeated the Long Beach High School team.

 

The team was coached by Woody Davis, a reigning champion who coached Sullivan during her own swimming days. “A lot of people don’t know the respect I had for Woody Davis,” Sullivan told me. It is for this reason defeating her former coach was such an eye opener. 

 

But out of every facet of her career, Sullivan stated that she is most proud of her swimmers. “It takes a lot of courage,” she stated. “And they want to improve. They look at some of the others who swim year round, and they may not be as good yet. But they still want to be on the team. I’m proud of that because it takes a lot.” She added that she is pleased the team has been able to stay so good for 20 years.

 

We can only hope that the teams’ legacy continues for many more.

News

Small businessman finds big success

Anthony DePalma has been manager at Covert Avenue’s Raindew Family Center and Pharmacy for 13 years. Last month, at the 30th Annual Small Businessperson of the Year and Legislative Breakfast at the Crest Hollow Country Club, DePalma got his much deserved recognition when he was awarded the day’s top honor by the Covert Avenue Chamber of Commerce, whose members hail from Stewart Manor and Floral Park.  

“My initial reaction was ‘wow that’s very nice,’ I didn’t realize that it was going to be such a beautiful extravaganza,” said DePalma on winning the award. “They did it very, very well. They had a breakfast at the Crest Hollow Country Club and everything was done beautifully. It was just done very, very nicely. Very proud.”

School board shows off improvements at Stratford

This month’s Garden City Board of Education meeting saw a boost in attendance, and not just from district residents. This was the first board meeting to be held at Stratford School, so teachers and students there stopped by to show off the best it has to offer.

Leading the pack was school principal Eileen Vota, who gave the board a tour of the school before the meeting got underway. Along the way, highlights of the capital improvement project were pointed out, all a result of the 2009 School Investment Bond and Energy Performance Contract.


Sports

Winter Swim Lesson Registration Announced

The Garden City Recreation Department will be conducting children’s swimming lessons for village residents at the Adelphi University swimming pool in Woodruff Hall on Saturday mornings. Your child must be six years of age by the start of the program to participate. This 10-week session will begin Saturday, Dec. 6. Classes are taught by Red Cross-certified instructors. The cost is $80. These classes are open to residents of the Incorporate Village of Garden City.

Learn And Play Paddle Tennis

The recreation and parks department will offer beginner level platform tennis lessons at Community Park’s Platform Courts. This five-week course will offer the basic instruction and will be taught by certified platform instructor Sue Tarzian. Each class will be 1.5 hours in length. The cost of this program is $187.50. Classes began the week of Nov. 5. The following classes will be offered:

Beginners - Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Advanced Beginners – Thursdays at 10:30 a.m.

This program is for beginners only and participants must be Garden City residents. To register, visit the recreation office at 108 Rockaway Ave.


Calendar

Marvelous Movie Matinée

Monday, December 1

AARP Driver Safety Program

Tuesday, December 2

Here Comes Brother Sun

Friday, December 5



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com