Hundreds of Long Islanders gathered at Sachem North High School for the 2018 Bronze Championship swimming meet from March 23-25. The meet, open to swimmers ages nine to 17, pitted young swimmers against each other in various competitions. Islanders Aquatics, coached by Franklin Square native Nicholas Spinella was among the six teams that competed in the developmental event.
Spinella joined the Islanders Aquatics — a year round, competitive swim club — at the beginning of March. He had been the assistant swimming coach at Adelphi University when he reached out to Marc Danin and Mike Murray, the head coaches at Islanders Aquatics, who happened to need a new assistant coach to work with the younger students.
“It’s actually not your normal employee-employer relationship,” Spinella said. “I’ve known both of them for a long time. One coached me and one recruited me in college.”
Spinella met Danin more than ten years ago, when Spinella joined the Long Island Aquatic Club. Danin was the assistant coach and helped introduce Spinella to the world of competitive swimming. While Danin eventually left to start Islanders Aquatics, Spinella went on to H. Frank Carey High School and joined the Sewanhaka Central High School District swim team. As he balanced being both a club and school swimmer, Spinella was able to find success, qualifying for state competitions while also breaking the Nassau County record in the100-yard backstroke.
“Nick is what we call a program changer,” Murray, the Islanders Aquatics co-head coach and a former Marist College assistant coach, said. “I reached out to him before his senior year in high school, and he signed to compete for Marist.”
While the men’s team found little success in college competitions, Spinella continued to thrive as he became a two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion in the 200 meter backstroke. He was happy to continue his swimming career as he trained with a half-dozen other Long Island swimmers. After taking a brief break from swimming after graduating from Marist, Spinella got an assistant coaching position at Adelphi. But when he learned that Murray had joined Danin
at Islanders Aquatics last year, Spinella felt drawn to the club.
“I knew they were going to succeed very quickly, and I wanted to be a part of that,” Spinella said.
As the assistant coach, Spinella works with seven- to 12-year-olds and helps them get acquainted with competitive swimming, much like what Danin had done with him. Spinella spends more than an hour, from Monday to Saturday, teaching his students all the various swimming techniques in order to find each student’s strongest events. Spinella and the younger students practice at Sayville Middle School while Danin’s and Murray’s groups swim at Lindenhurst High School. Spinella said his main goal is to build confidence and skill in the younger swimmers.
“I want these kids to move on to a bigger and better level of competition,” he said.
The older and more advanced swimmers go on to travel and compete in state and national meets with Danin and Murray. Spinella and Murray said that in the past year, Islanders Aquatics has reached new levels of competition and success. Islanders Aquatics placed 12th overall out of 92 clubs at the Senior Metropolitan Championship on Feb. 20. The senior team also competed at the Speedo Sectional Championships in Buffalo from March 22 to March 25.
Although the 2018 Bronze Championship was Spinella’s first event, it is also the last meet of the winter season for his students. Spinella will spend the entire spring training his new students and preparing them for the start of the summer season.