Coach’s Corner: Meet Silvana Choy, Swimming Coach
Silvana Choy, who has been swimming since her childhood, has recently become Stuyvesant’s swim coach again.
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The Penguins, Stuyvesant’s girls’ swimming team, began training for their 2018 season on August 27. With two hours of practice Monday to Friday and even some Saturday morning practice sessions, it is no wonder that the Penguins defended their title of City Champions this season, led by their coach Silvana Choy, who is now gearing up for the boys’ season.
Choy grew up in the pool and swam competitively for most of her childhood and throughout her high school years. “I have loved the sport of swimming for as far back as I can remember,” Choy said. She attended New York University (NYU), swimming competitively on the team, where she focused on the 200-meter butterfly. “I have always found butterfly to be the most challenging but the most beautiful of all the strokes,” Choy said. Unsurprisingly, during both her junior and senior years of college, Choy was named team captain.
After Choy graduated from NYU with a degree in Psychology, the NYU Men’s swimming coach suggested that she apply to Stuyvesant for a coaching position. Choy had experience teaching lessons at her local YMCA when she was in high school and was offered a spot to coach Stuyvesant’s boys swim team in 1999 by then Athletic Director, Martha Singer. The following season, she was offered the job of girls’ swimming coach.
Choy ended up enjoying coaching so much that she pursued her teaching degree from Queens College and eventually began working as a Physical Education teacher at Stuyvesant. A testament to Choy’s love of Stuyvesant is the fact that she has never taught at other schools. One reason for this may be because “[t]here are so many opportunities for the students to take advantage of [at Stuyvesant], and Stuyvesant is a special place,” Choy said.
Choy was the Stuyvesant swim coach through the 2007 season. Despite her love of coaching, however, Choy stepped down from her coaching position to focus on her family. “Coaching requires many hours of preparation and planning. After having my first child, I wanted to spend time at home with her,” Choy said.
In the interim years after Choy stepped down as the Stuyvesant swimming coach to spend time with her family, coach Peter Bologna replaced Choy as the swimming coach. However, when Bologna became Stuyvesant’s Athletic Director last year, Choy reprised her role as the Stuyvesant swim coach for both the girls’ and boys’ teams. It wasn’t a difficult decision for Choy. “I love coaching and decided to give it another try. Both teams have a great group of kids, and coaching them has been a rewarding experience,” Choy said.
This season was incredibly successful for the girls, as three school records were broken for the team relays: 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, and the 400 free relay. Choy was very happy with the team’s overall performance, but she has also been focused on individual improvement. “Winning is fun, but seeing the swimmers drop many seconds in their individual events is more rewarding as a coach,” she said. In fact, the 400 relay made up of juniors Arielle Aney, Natasha Moeslinger, and Emma Lee, and freshman Mayumi Schaepers-Cheu broke not only the school but also the PSAL record.
In addition, seven girls on the team qualified for the New York State Championships held in Ithaca on November 16-17, including Schaepers-Cheu who won the PSAL-wide April Lao Memorial Award for outstanding rookie swimmer. April Lao was a freshman at Stuyvesant in 2005-2006 who died in a car accident en route from Queens to Buffalo to compete in a YMCA swim meet in March 2006. This award was particularly meaningful to Choy, who had coached Lao as a freshman. As Choy recalled, “April was an incredible swimmer and person, and it was very special and emotional for me to watch April’s family present Mayumi with this honor.”
Given the great talent on the girls’ swimming team, Choy is not worried about the team’s performance next year. In fact, Choy is excited for the girls to yet again defend their title as City Champions. “I think the team is extremely strong and talented. We will hopefully add on to the team next season, but we have a lot of talent returning,” Choy said.
While Choy’s focus is on coaching the Stuyvesant swim teams, she is also passionate in other areas. For starters, Choy is an avid reader, especially when it comes to reading about the environment and marine mammals. Indeed, Choy intends to pursue environmental work after she retires one day from teaching. For now, however, she can still be found along the side of the pool getting the Penguins and the Pirates into championship form.