Seamus Trzewik-Quinn is a name that will be remembered for a long time in this area, so insisted Eric Culver, the New Paltz High School boys swimming coach.
It’s his belief that by season’s end, once his pupil has concluded his sterling career, Trzewik-Quinn will be deemed one of the local greats and, whenever swimming is brought up, that name will soon follow.
Good chance it’ll be mispronounced, though.
“It’s an unusual name,” Trzewik-Quinn said, “so I understand. It comes with the territory.”
For starters, it’s “Shay-mus” and the last name, of Polish origin, is pronounced “Sheh-vick.”
But more important is the swimming aspect of his coach’s prophecy.
“Guys like him don’t come around that often,” said Culver, himself a former record-setting swimmer at New Paltz.
Such declarations, the senior said, “inspire me to have more confidence in myself.”
His senior season began Monday, and Trzewik-Quinn already has a lengthy list of accomplishments. As a junior, he won Section 9 titles in the 100-yard backstroke and 200 individual medley, and had top-10 finishes in both events at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championship Meet, en route to being named the Journal’s Boys Swimmer of the Year. So, the goals now are admittedly, and understandably, “ambitious.”
“I want to win a state title in at least one of my events, specifically backstroke,” he said. “At the very least, I want to finish in the top three.”
He also has his sights set on cracking 49 seconds in the backstroke. Hudson Carroll, a former New Paltz swimmer, set a Section 9 record of 50.7 seconds in the event in 2014 before going on to the University at Buffalo. Trzewik-Quinn is also headed to that school — the alma mater of his coach, as well — and would love to own that record.
“He set the bar really high,” said Trzewik-Quinn, who swam a personal-best of 52.17 in the race at the state meet. “My goal is to raise the bar even higher. Big goals, but I think they’re doable.”
He has been given no reason to think otherwise or doubt himself in a pool. Not since infancy.
Erin Quinn used to bring her baby along when she visited the town’s municipal pool. Seamus, all of 2 years old, would be ensconced on the deck. But it didn’t take long for him to scamper toward the edge and jump into the pool.
“My mom would catch me and put me back,” Trzewik-Quinn said, “but she’s told me I would go right back and do it again.”
That’s what compelled his parents to start giving him basic swimming lessons and, at 6, he was enrolled in a summer recreational program. That’s where he and current teammate Nicky Marshall first became close. Trzewik-Quinn laughed as he recalled the two competing with each other, but taking longer than a minute to swim 25 yards.
Within four years, though, the improvement was drastic. At 10, he competed in the Eastern Zone age group all star championship and, in the 100 backstroke, came within a second of the 1:00.06 record Olympic legend Michael Phelps set in the event when he was 10. It was then, Trzewik-Quinn said, that his confidence grew.
“He’s a workhorse,” said Culver, in his first season as Huguenots coach. “I give them things to do in practice that are challenging and he always accepts the challenge.”
Culver was a distance swimmer and still holds the Section 9 record of 4:33.82 in the 500 freestyle, set in 2010. He has implemented distance routines in practice, seeking to improve everyone’s stamina.
“Seamus’ turn-over rates are impressive and he’s got good technique, but he’s not as strong at the end of races,” Culver said. “We’re working on his pull and second halves to get stronger finishes.”
The Huguenots swim about 5,000 yards each practice and, as the season goes, Culver could up that to 8,000. “It’s grueling, but it’s good for us,” Trzewik-Quinn said. “It’ll make us better in the long run.”
And in the longer run, they hope, his name could be etched in local swimming lore.
“Most announcers will mispronounce the name,” Trzewik-Quinn said. “How the announcer says it, my teammates will call me that until the next time it’s mispronounced.”
As long as it’s not forgotten.
Stephen Haynes: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4826, Twitter: @StephenHaynes4