Pete Nastasi’s head burst through the watery divide. He takes in the short, sweet breaths of fresh air before once again plunging beneath the pool’s surface. A human amphibian, Nastasi is in his element and with each breath that pushes him forward, so too do his dreams of making nationals.
Nastasi, a third-year free swimmer, began swimming in his first-year of high school. At first, he swam to stay in shape for baseball, but soon his love of the sport kept him pool side indefinitely.
In November of this year, Nastasi was named student athlete of the week after his 200 and 500 freestyle wins helped nab the Hawks a victory against SUNY Oneonta.
Head Swim Coach Scott Whitbeck describes Nastasi as one of the best distance swimmers the school has ever seen, attributing Nastasi’s success to his work ethic.
“He is one of the hardest workers in practice, regularly being the fastest swimmer on the team during hard sets,” Whitbeck said.
Whitbeck went on to describe Nastasi as a swimmer who works well with his teammates, and is quickly becoming a player the rest of the team can look up to.
“As a teammate, he is a quiet but accountable person, never missing practice and generally carries a positive attitude into each workout,” Whitbeck said. “I think he’s evolving into a great leader.”
Nastasi attributes his success to the amount of time he spends practicing and training, and the leadership and experience provided by Whitbeck. He plans to continue this success by not only practicing and hitting the weight room, but by also living in New Paltz over the summer. Nastasi hopes that his drive to succeed will propel him to the Nationals during his fourth-year at New Paltz.
Whitbeck said that since joining the team in 2008, he has seen a marked improvement from Nastasi.
“It took an adjustment for him to get used to the heavy distance training as a first-year. By now, he knows what is expected of him and is able and capable of handling the hard yardage much better than he used to. I think he’s getting better at understanding what level of intensity I want him to be at during each practice, as well,” Whitbeck said.
Nastasi also said that the encouragement and camaraderie of his fellow swimmers during races keeps himself and the team solid and their morale high.
“Everyone is excited to watch each other swim and whenever they are not swimming they are definitely cheering for the rest of the team. Everyone is extremely supportive of each other and this is the main way we help our team succeed.”
To make Nationals, Nastasi said that he has much to improve upon but that he believes that once he does, the future is in the bag.
“The main things that I need to work on are swimming hard into the walls and flipping fast and efficiently, as well as taking three or four dolphin kicks off of each wall. I know that if I can do these things successfully, then I can achieve my goals,” Nastasi said.
In regards to his recognition, Nastasi described it as an honor. He also said that he was glad all his efforts have been noticed.
“It is a great feeling knowing that the hard work and time that you put into a sport is being acknowledged,” Nastasi said.