As seen in the Nov. 8 issue
Jessica Lu, spotlight editor
Senior Alexander Ayzenberg has 11 swim practices a week, but none of them are in the Swim-Gym. For the past three years, Ayzenberg has been swimming with Team Santa Monica (TSM), a non-profit organization offering club swimming to “all ages and abilities,” according to its website, www.teamsantamonica.org.
“I decided to join TSM because I like to swim year round,” Ayzenberg explained. “To remain competitive, one season isn’t enough.”
Ayzenberg is part of TSM’s National group. The site describes swimmers in this group as “top level.” The group competes at the Sectional and National level, and meets about 10 times a week, or in Ayzenberg’s case, 11.
“All we do is swim laps,” Ayzenberg said. “We really focus on reducing our lap times more than anything else. When it comes down to success in terms of meets and competitions, the times are what really matter.”
The team is coached by the U.S. National Junior Team Coach Dave Kelsheimer. Ayzenberg said that having Kelsheimer as a coach added a new element to swimming for him.
“Meeting the coach’s expectations bring me to a whole new level of swimming,” he said. “I truly feel I get better with every practice. He’s coached some of the best players in the nation for my age group, and he knows the team can always do better.”
His teammates, which he said included four U.S. National swimmers, also contribute to what he likes about TSM.
“I personally like club swimming because I am surrounded by athletes who care and dedicate so much time to the sport, just like I do,” Ayzenberg said. “We swim faster when we can feel each others’ motivation to perform well.”
Ayzenberg’s goals include making the U.S. National team and earning a swimming scholarship for college.
“I know I will continue to swim in college, and hopefully one day make the Olympics,” he said. “For the long course, I am about three seconds slower than most qualifying times, and so I hope within the next few years, I can get to that level.”
Ayzenberg is currently ranked 15th in California for 100m butterfly, with a time of 51.08 seconds. He also swims the 200m butterfly.
Though he enjoys the benefits of being part of TSM, Ayzenberg also values his varsity swimming spot at Beverly. However, managing both swimming careers can be “a lot to handle” when practices coincide.
“Athletes know that managing practice, meets and homework is difficult,” Ayzenberg said. “I don’t always manage to complete all my homework. But I find the experience very much worth it, because my results reflect my effort.”
The boys swimming season does not start until spring, so Ayzenberg can focus completely on TSM at the moment. Currently, Ayzenberg is preparing for his next senior meet on Sunday, Nov. 10. These meets take about 150 swimmers who have qualified with a certain time, with no specific home or away team. Last year Ayzenberg finished fifth in the 100m fly, but hopes his improved time can move him up in awards.