Swimmin’ for a Livin’

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Cover Image
By Honora Muratori

Name: Oscar Kaye

Grade: 12

Height: 6’0”

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Brown

Date of Birth: 02/28/2005

Name: Lucas Grimaldi

Grade: 12

Height: 6’2”

Hair Color: Brown

Eye Color: Brown

Date of Birth: 02/16/2005

When and how did you start swimming? How long have you been on the Pirates, the Stuyvesant varsity swimming team?

Oscar: I started swimming when I was really young. I joined a swim team when I was in the third grade, so I think I was eight. I have been on a club team for a while. I was on the Manhattan Makos for about eight years, and then I joined the Flying Dolphins. I’ve been on the Pirates for all of high school, since my freshman year.

Lucas: I’ve been swimming since I was six years old. I learned to swim at a local gym, and a coach asked me to join her team. I swam with that team up until the eighth grade before I came to Stuyvesant. And I have been on the Pirates all four years as well.

What strokes do you swim, and what skills/strengths are involved?

Oscar: I swim only freestyle. I used to be a breaststroker, but last year, I just decided to go into freestyle because I was getting better at it. I was doing the 200-meter, the 100-meter, and the 400-meter relay. It involves a lot of technique because it’s more medium distance, so you need good technique in underwater turns to be good at it, but you also need endurance because the 100-meter and 200-meter are both pretty fast events.

Lucas: I currently swim the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle. I used to be a distance swimmer my freshman year. During junior year, I decided to steer more toward freestyle, because I was getting better at the 50-meter, and now I’m doing that. I guess one of the strengths involved is focusing on expending all your energy in such a short amount of time, which is why I started liking the 50-meter, because you really get to push yourself.

What is your most memorable moment with the Pirates?

Oscar: There have been so many memorable moments. That’s a hard question. I think there are two, and Lucas would agree with this, I think. Most recently, [one] would be the swim meet against Bronx Science, because a lot of alumni from our freshman year came and saw us, and a lot of alumni from last year, when we got destroyed by Bronx Science, came back and watched us beat them, so that was pretty memorable. And the second one would be when Coach told us last year that we were going to be captains. We didn’t know what was going on. It was by complete surprise. We had both been working our butts off, especially since the team last year was kind of a mess, and Lucas and I were trying to hold the team together, so that was special.

Lucas: Yeah I have to agree. That’s perfect.

Do you have any plans to continue swimming in the future or in college?

Oscar: I want to swim D3 in college. Nothing is certain, but all will become clear. All will become clear.

Lucas: Depending on which school I get into, I would probably try and go D3, but I don’t know if I could. I would definitely want to stay active in the pool though and probably join the intramural club.

Do you have any premeet superstitions or rituals?

Oscar: When I was a kid, my goggles would always come off, and my suit would always come untied, so I was just a mess when I was swimming. So, before I go swimming, I have to check like five times whether my goggles are secure and my suit is all tied. Also, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a meet before, but something you will hear a lot is people slapping their muscles to get their blood warmed up, so that’s something I do as well.

Lucas: I know for me, before each of my races, I listen to music to hype myself up. I listen to a lot of rap, which is more fast-paced.

What is the coaching style like on the team?

Oscar: He’s very professional. He knows what he’s doing. He swam in high school and swam D1 in college, so he is a serious former athlete, and he definitely pushes us is what I’ll say. He does have a really good balance of strictness and leniency, when both are needed. Our former fastest swimmer, for example, refused to go to practice. He said he only wanted to go to the meets. And Coach told him he can’t be on the team, that it doesn’t work like that.

Lucas: I am a fan of our coach. I really like Coach Zhu. He does a good job of disciplining us, but at the same time keeping a free spirit, I guess. I’m glad he stepped in as coach.

What are your short and long-term goals this season?

Oscar: [My] short term goals are to break my personal records: to break 50 seconds on the 100-meter freestyle and break 1:50 on the 200-meter free. There are also some people on the team that I’d like to get faster. I might be taking some more time out of the water so that I can help people in the water with their technique and swimming. [My] long term goal is to bring the championship back home, where it belongs.

Lucas: For short-term goals, I want to try and break 22 seconds for my 50-meter freestyle. And my long-term goal is the same as Oscar. I want to bring home City Champs.

What are the best and worst parts of swimming?

Oscar: The downside is that it is incredibly time consuming, more so than most other sports. If you take a day off and miss a practice, then you’re behind. If you’re not working your butt off for two hours straight in the water, then you will not be as fast as other people who are doing that. It is not a talent thing. Some people can be more talented than others, but that won’t take you very far. It’s about the hard work. I have missed countless social engagements in the past 10 years for swimming, just to go swimming, and that can be tough. The upside is that we are a part of something that is larger than us. And that feels really good, especially when you’re leading and building it into something more. I am really honored to be a part of something that has been going on for so long, and yeah, that’s the upside, being part of the team.

Lucas: Obviously the downside is that it is very time consuming. I guess something I hate about it is that my skin is always dry, and I’m always cold, [with] dry skin and chlorine. The upside of it is that you’re part of a team, especially compared to a club team, where it’s a lot more individual. On a high school team, you’re a part of something that is bigger than you, and your contribution is so valuable, and just knowing that makes you feel a lot more fulfilled when you’re going to practice and bonding with teammates. It’s just a good thing to be a part of.

Oscar Kaye

Funniest Teammate: Michael Debra and Charlie Stern

Favorite Swimmer: Michael Phelps

Favorite Sports Drink: Water

Favorite Post-Meet Snack: Pizza

Hobbies: Writing, boxing, filming

Motto to Live By: We who are about to die salute you.

Swimming Pet Peeve: Pretending to be hurt.

Fun Fact: I know how to use a butterfly knife.

Favorite Warm-Up Stretch: Twistie twistie

Biggest Competition This Season: Brooklyn Technical High School

Best Stroke: Freestyle

Lucas Grimaldi

Funniest Teammate: Destin Yu

Favorite Swimmer: Cody Miller

Favorite Sports Drink: Water

Favorite Post-Meet Snack: Cheeseburger

Hobbies: Surfing, photography, basketball

Motto to Live By: It is what it is.

Swimming Pet Peeve: Pulling on the feet of people in front of you.

Fun Fact: I used to do magic when I was little.

Favorite Warm-Up Stretch: Hugging your leg

Biggest Competition This Season: James Madison High School

Best Stroke: Freestyle