VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: Longtime Nassau Swim Club Lemmings head coach Bruce Nystrom, left, instructs his swimmers as Miles Radcliffe-Trenner looks on. Nassau dominated its competition in Division II of the Princeton-area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA). The Lemmings went undefeated in six dual meets and placed first overall in the Division II team standings at the PASDA championship meet last week. Nassau also placed first overall among teams of all divisions at the PASDA mini-meet, a competition for swimmers ages 10-and-under.
Bruce Nystrom smiled as he struggled to lift the brown grocery bag which contained a load weighing about 25 pounds.
The bag sitting on a picnic table at the Nassau Swim Club last Friday represented the spoils of victory as it held all the medals garnered by the club's Lemmings swim team last week at the Princeton-area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet.
The Lemmings won the Division II team title at the meet, placing first in both the girls' and boys' competitions.
The win culminated a perfect summer for the Lemmings as they went undefeated in six dual meets and won the PASDA mini-meet, a competition for swimmers ages 10 and under.
"I usually like to lose at least one meet in a season because I think it's good for the kids," said Nystrom, whose team will be moving up to PASDA's Division I as a result of its unblemished campaign. "I can wait until next year to lose one."
On the face of things, it would seem that the Lemmings must have had a lot of depth to achieve such dominance but Nystrom will tell you that isn't the case. "We were a little less deep than in other years; this was one of our smallest teams in recent years," asserted Nystrom.
"In the championship meet, we weren't able to come up with some 14-and-under relay teams. We would cover ourselves by moving some 14-and-under kids up to the 17-and-under relay. We were able to move some of the 12-and-under girls to the 14-and-under relays."
Nassau clearly had quality throughout its lineup, starting with its most experienced swimmer, Martha Ferguson, a recent Princeton High graduate who helped the Little Tigers' girls squad advance to the state Public B championship final this past winter.
"It's her last season," said Nystrom of the Princeton University-bound Ferguson, who placed first in the Division II women's 17-and-under 50-yard breaststroke, 50 butterfly, and 100 individual medley. "She did very well. Believe it or not she is our only senior so at least the rest of the team will be back as we get reintroduced to Division I."
The Lemmings have a lot of young talent as evidenced by their win in the PASDA mini-meet. "We have good 10-and under girls, that was probably our strongest suit," said Nystrom, whose 10-year-old group featured Hannah Ash, Carrie Bonfield, Maggie Gardner, and Carla Tuan. "They are really strong; they are doing very well."
Other standouts for Nassau included Dina Voevodsky in the 6-and-under girls, Rebecca Adlai-Gail in the 8-and-under girls, Huw Helman in the 8-and-under boys, David Adlai-Gail in the 10-and-under boys, Annie Gardner in the 14-and-under girls, Haley Carstensen and Madeline Smit in the 17-and-under women, Harun Filipovic in the 14-and-under boys, and Miles Radcliffe-Trenner in the 17-and-under men.
In Nystrom's view, a key factor in the team's success came down to daily water polo sessions led by Radcliffe-Trenner and Guy Helman.
"We have water polo in the afternoon now so we're getting a group of kids that's always around," said Nystrom.
"If we are going to compete with clubs like Community Park and Flemington-Raritan it's because kids want to hang around and enjoy that aspect of belonging to a club like this."
The program prides itself on introducing swimmers of all ages to competition. "We had a four-year old, Drew Friedman, who was able to score points for us," added Nystrom, who has been coaching the Lemmings since the summer of 1970.
"I certainly don't propose that four year olds be swimming in meets buts it's rewarding to have a kid like that who had never competed before. Every once in a while, you get a four-year-old who enjoys it and doesn't get upset or cry."
Nystrom also enjoyed getting through to some of his older swimmers. "Probably even more rewarding is getting somebody who has been going through the motions and begins to learn what being competitive means," said Nystrom.
"They start to care about where they finish not because of a medal or ribbon but they start to notice times. They develop self confidence and a work ethic, you kind of need a little of both."
The Lemmings developed a lot of confidence this summer as their hard work paid off in a season to remember.
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