What’s your legacy, and how does that define you?
That’s the question North Rockland senior Matthew Zugibe was trying to answer this entire boys swimming season. But Zugibe he looked at the question as more about his legacy as part of the North Rockland boys swim team.
“I do pride myself on being a great athlete but I’d like to think of myself more as a small part of a bigger whole,” Zugibe said. “It’s not so much that I have a legacy, but North Rockland has a legacy and a tradition of greatness, but I’m a part of that. It’s all about the name North Rockland and what that means to all of us. I don’t like to see myself as one person because the relays helped me get to where I am and everything like that. It’s not really about me but it’s about North Rockland more than anything.”
Zugibe saved the best for last, leading the Red Raiders to a third-place finish at the Rockland County Championships. He won titles in the 200-yard individual medley, the 100 breaststroke, and as a member of the 200 freestyle and 400 free relays.
At the Section 1 Championships he was first in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke and was a member of the champion 200 medley relay team, and helped the 400 free relay to a fourth-place finish. The Red Raiders finished third in the team standings.
At the state and Federation championships, he was second in both the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke. He helped the 200 medley relay to a third-place finish in the state and fourth overall in route to winning the Journal News Rockland Swimmer of the Year for the second time in three years.
You ask anyone on the swim team, Zugibe’s legacy is his leadership ability. That’s something Zugibe learned from some former Red Raiders – Manhattan sophomore and former Journal News Rockland Swimmer of the Year Brandon Shields (2013) and former North Rockland swimmer Bobby Varier.
Zugibe said he has also learned a lot from former Tappan Zee standout and 2010 Rockland Swimmer of the Year Stanley Wong, as well as a core group of friends he grew up with, including Johnny Kilduff and Christina Paspalas; last year’s Rockland Boys Swimmer of the Year Ryan Wagner (Clarkstown); and former Rockland Girls Swimmer of the Year Nicki Ciavarella (Nyack 2012, 2013).
“I grew up with them and they taught me what a good work ethic is,” Zugibe said. “I think I learned the most from Nicki just because of being close with her and seeing her perseverance as well as everything that makes those four people, those four people. Along with Stanley, Brandon and Bobby, who were like big brothers to me.”
The University of Minnesota-bound senior met Shields when Zugibe was in the eighth grade and he gained a whole new mindset.
“When I first met Brandon I wasn’t having the success that I have now,” Zugibe said. “When I met him I think everything changed. Before that, we wouldn’t go that hard on sets. We were all OK with being mediocre. Brandon brought a new intensity with that. There’s only so much a coach can motivate you, but there’s also how much a swimmer can motivate you. Having him in the water and to train with him was great and an amazing experience to train with someone so talented.”
Shields taught him a lot of lessons while they were on the team together.
“Never give up and never give up on your training,” Zugibe said. “Even though we’d train together in the same lane, he’d still lap me. At the end of the set, he’d make me finish up any of the laps that I missed because he lapped me. He really taught me to take accountability for my own actions, which has made be a better person outside of the pool too. Swimming is really great that way and it’s taught me a lot of lessons in life. He’s had a huge impact on me.”
Zugibe’s legacy is felt by the rest of his teammates, including seventh-grader Timothy Engel and junior Mike Tartakovsky.
“Matt definitely left his mark at North Rockland,” Tartakovsky said. “Not only in the sense of speed but in the sense of leadership. Matt has four-fifths of the record board so that shows he’s done a lot. An example of how he’s a great leader is how he works with the younger kids and how he helps improve their strokes. Me personally, he’s impacted heavily in the case of holding me accountable to give my all at practice. Speed-wise, I see him as a guide for success so I strive to beat his records next year if I have the chance. Without a doubt, he’ll go down as the fastest to come out of North Rockland.”
The rest of the Journal News first team (with help from the Rockland County coaches) includes:
200-yard medley relay – North Rockland: The quartet, including junior Mike Tartakovsky, senior Matt Zugibe, and sophomores Luke Gamboli and Jared Finn, won the Section 1 title in February, leading North Rockland to a third-place team finish. This quartet went on to finish third in the state and fourth in the Federation. They won the Rockland County Championship in the event.
200 freestyle — James Dwyer, So., Clarkstown: Dwyer was second at the county championships in the event and 12th in the Section.
50 freestyle, 100 backstroke — Mike Tartakovsky, Jr., North Rockland: He won the county title in the 50, finished third in the section and was seventh overall (fifth in the state) at the state and Federation championships. He won the 100 back county title, was second in the section, and fifth at the state/Federation championships.
Diving — David Walters, Jr., Clarkstown: Walters was the county champion and the Section 1 bronze medalist. He finished 14th in the state and Federation.
100 butterfly — Yong Chan Jun, So., Clarkstown: He’s the county champion in the event and finished 13th at sections. He qualified for the state and Federation championships competing in the 200 freestyle.
100 freestyle — Josh Southren, Jr., Suffern: Southren, the lone Mounties first-team representative, won the county title in the event and was fourth in the section.
500 freestyle — Ryan Lawson, So., Tappan Zee: The Dutchmen’s lone first-team representative was the county champion in the distance event and finished 15th in the section.
200 freestyle relay — Clarkstown: The quartet of sophomores Lazar Andjelic and Yong Chan Jun and seniors Matthew Jagdeo and Michael Spears was second at counties behind North Rockland and finished sixth at sections.
400 freestyle relay — North Rockland: Sophmores Jared Finn and Chris Tiso, junior Mike Tartakovsky, and senior Matt Zugibe won the county title, were fourth in the section and finished ninth in the state/Federation.
Coach of the Year: Dave Holmes, North Rockland: The Red Raiders, under Holmes, finished third overall at the Section 1 championships and finished seventh overall at the state/Federation championships. Matthew Zugibe (two silvers) and Mike Tartakovsky both qualified for the championship finals in their individual events.
200 medley relay: Clarkstown
200 freestyle: Thomas Assad, Sr., Suffern
200 individual medley: Sean Flynn, So., Suffern
50 freestyle: Liam Carey, Sr., Tappan Zee
Diving: Daniel Alaimo, So., Clarkstown
100 butterfly: Luke Gamboli, So., North Rockland
100 freestyle: Jared Finn, So., North Rockland
500 freestyle: Andrew Stolarski, Fr., Clarkstown
200 freestyle relay: North Rockland
100 backstroke: Joshua Chamak, So., Clarkstown
100 breaststroke: Sean Flynn, So., Suffern
400 freestyle relay: Suffern
Honorable mention: Daniel Adjedj, So., North Rockland; Brandon Angeles, Fr., North Rockland; Ethan Cohen, Fr., Tappan Zee; Christopher Crimi, So., Clarkstown; Clark Giraldez, Sr., Nyack; Mike Hennelly, So., Suffern; Shawn Hewitt, Sr., North Rockland; Gary Hu, So., Tappan Zee; Jason Karen, Jr., Suffern; Tyler Kenny, So., Tappan Zee; Derek Lederer, Jr., Tappan Zee, Nikolai Mayorov, Fr., Clarkstown; Nick Mesibov, Sr., Tappan Zee; Aiden Neville, Jr., Clarkstown; John Severs, Sr., Suffern; Harrison Schatz, Sr., Clarkstown; Jack Simon, So., Suffern; Kevin Smahaj, Sr., North Rockland; Dominique Varier, Fr., Nyack.