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Manning The Anchor For Excellence

Coach Anne Sullivan’s

discipline sets tone for

undefeated swim teams

In true David Letterman fashion the Garden City girls swim team made up t-shirts a year back that listed the 10 top reasons to swim for Garden City High School and the number one reason is this week’s subject, Coach Anne Sullivan. Well known throughout the community as the driving force to the very successful swim programs at the high school, Sullivan has developed and nurtured many a Garden City youngster to love the water. Her passion, dedication and commitment to a sport that she has loved since she was a youngster comes through each and every time she interacts with either a student athlete, a parent or another coach.

This past spring Sullivan was presented with the Female Coach of the Year award by Athletic Director Nancy Kalafus at the annual Coaches Golf Outing and Dinner hosted by the Garden City Men’s Association.

Sullivan graduated from Garden City High School in 1973 and came back to coach the boys and girls varsity swim teams in 1995, consistently winning and turning the teams into dominant forces in the pools throughout Long Island. The girls program has had tremendous success with a string of 13 consecutive County Championships and a run of 100 straight dual meet victories – the longest streak of any sport in school history. The streak began in October 2001 and ran through this past season with the team’s 100th victory coming against Jericho on October 11.

While on the boys side, where she typically has a smaller squad to work with, she has produced numerous titles and developed some terrific individual performers throughout the years. This past season the boys turned in an undefeated season to capture their first County Championship since 1999. With all of her great success Sullivan remains very humble,  I’m not really into the numbers, it’s always been about the girls and boys doing their best – and that has always been good enough for us to win.

Winning doesn’t come without hard work, discipline and perseverance, traits that Sullivan instills in her swimmers as they hit the pools at least six days a week, sometimes twice a day. For those that don’t know getting pool time is not easy so practice can be almost any time of the day or night, for whatever length that a pool is available. Add to that the training that must be put in on land as well, running and lifting, and you can see why commitment is key to the sport.

And as tough as Ann can be as a task master and trainer her swimmers have always been very supportive of her with glowing accolades when asked about her. One swimmer acknowledged that one of her favorite sayings from Sullivan  sums up what it takes to be part of her team - Early is on-time, on-time is late and late is unacceptable.

Written about many times before Sullivan has left many a Garden City swimmer with great memories and Sullivan’s legacy grows as many graduates of the Trojan program continue their swimming careers in college. Just to name a few of the recent Trojan graduates- Chris Finnegan (Georgetown), Megan Zarriello (Fordham), Erica Derlath (Colgate) and Lindsay Schlichte (Duke) are quick to give very positive reactions when asked about their time swimming for Sullivan.   

Sullivan’s own aquatic career started at a time when swimming in Garden City was limited to the town pool swim team. She had an immediate passion for the water and convinced her parents to let her swim year round, a good idea that resulted in producing national level results. In 1967 she was a member of the relay team that set the national record in the 11/12 girls 400 freestyle relay. Her highest accomplishment was making it to the Olympics trials in 1972 swimming the backstroke, only a dream for many that swim competitively!

In addition to being the varsity swim coach for both the boy and girls teams Sullivan teaches aquatics at Richmond Hill High School and runs the swim lesson program through the Garden City Recreation Department and the swim team and lessons at the Garden City Pool. She is responsible for countless awards with the high school team but more importantly she has taught and trained countless children to swim, respect and love the water.