East Coast Aquatic Club’s Josh Zuchowski Breaks National Age Group Record In Daytona Beach
By Sharon Robb
April 18, 2015—-A week after just missing a national age group record at the NASA Elite Showcase Classic Championship, Josh Zuchowski of East Coast Aquatic Club broke his first national age group record.
Zuchowski, 10, broke the 10-and-under national age group record in the 100-meter backstroke in 1:09.07. The previous record was 1:09.89 set by Destin Lasco of Pleasantville Aquatics.
The fifth grade home schooler broke the record in his first race of the day on Saturday at the Daytona Beach Speed Spring Open. Zuchowski raced in the open division against older swimmers including a 19-year-old he stayed with for most of the race.
Zuchowski is only the second Florida Gold Coast individual swimmer to hold a current national age group record. Clara Smiddy of AquaKids Sharks still holds the 200 individual medley short course record (set in 2008). South Florida Aquatic Club boys’ long course 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay records set in 2011 still stand.
Zuchowski has been ranked No. 1 in the nation in the IMX in 2014 and 2015.
Zuchowski, coached by John Kjaerulff and his father Jonathan Zuchowski, who was on the pool deck watching his son’s historic moment, was ecstatic after the race especially coming so close to three national records at the NASA Elite Showcase Classic Championship.
“I am really happy with the record,” Zuchowski said. “I just tried to stay with the guy next to me. I just felt fast. I went into the meet with confidence. I thought I could do it. We just didn’t know because I was coming off a meet last week.”
After Zuchowski touched the wall he looked up at the scoreboard.
“I saw 1:09.07 and then I looked at my dad and he said ‘you got it Josh.’ It’s great because I missed a bunch last week at NASA. I felt very happy I finally got one.”
Zuchowski has two races left on Sunday, the 50-meter backstroke and 100-meter backstroke in the 10-and-under division.
Meet officials were accommodating when Zuchowski’s father told them what he was trying to accomplish. Three timers worked his race and an extra long touchpad was used.
Zuchowski and his 18 teammates were coming off a great showing at last week’s NASA meet. East Coast Aquatic Club was tenth overall and boys team was seventh and broke four Florida Gold Coast records.
Zuchowski won seven individual gold medals, two silvers, one bronze and high point.
“Last week wasn’t his week in terms of a national record,” Jonathan Zuchowski said. “It’s certainly was something that was his goal. When he was 9 he looked at the 10-year-old national records and saw how far away he was.
“We went and broke it down and looked at the kids ahead of him. We said why not go for it. Let’s work very hard.”
Last week Zuchowski missed the 50-meter backstroke record by .27. Even more of a shocker was how close he came to the 200-meter individual medley. He missed the 1982 record of Chaz Martin by .3 seconds posting the second fastest all-time swim. His 200-meter medley relay missed the record by .6 with the second fastest time ever.
“We came out of that meet without that one goal,” his dad said.
With his 11th birthday on Monday, they decided to find a long course meet either in the Florida Gold Coast, Florida Swimming or even out of state if they had to.
“I was committed to him and wanted to do it for him” Zuchowski said. “I never wanted him to look back and say ‘what if.’ This weekend it was all about that goal. You never know what is going to happen in swimming.”
The Daytona Beach eight-lane pool wasn’t the fastest, the lane lines were narrow, one lane was used for warmup and the field wasn’t particularly fast. Plus, Zuchowski was at the pool for five hours in 90-degree weather before his race.
“It was surreal for that moment, is this really happening I asked myself,” Zuchowski said. “He realized how special it was and that someone was looking over him in that swim and got him to the finish line.”
Meanwhile, back home his mom and sister were accepting his IMX Award at the FGC Symposium led by Julie Smiddy at Pine Crest.
“It was a special day all around,” Zuchowski said. “It was a special day for father and son and father and coach to get to share this. It was special for Coach John Kjaerulff who has been coaching him for seven months and done an amazing job preparing him mentally and believing in him.”
Both father and son agreed it was a moment to savor, cherish and reflect on.
“I said to him don’t ever take this moment for granted, you never know you will be in this spot again,” Zuchowski said.
“He knew he wanted to try even though he was exhausted coming off a five-day meet. He had the love and support of Coach John who told him to go for it. He didn’t swim the perfect race and I think having a 19-year-old pull him along helped, but it was a moment in time we will always remember.”
Sharon Robb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida Swim Network