The College of Staten Island Athletics program, through Assistant Athletic Director for Aquatics Michael Ackalitis, recently teamed with Fitter & Faster Swim Camps to bring their Olympic Instructional Program to the Sports and Recreation Center on campus to serve the Staten Island and neighboring communities. The first of three clinics was recently held with U.S. Olympic Team medalist Nick Thoman.

Fitter & Faster Swim Camps was started in 2009 to be a world-class learning experience for participants, led by more than 200 elite-level swimmers including 50+ Olympians and Paralympians who have won more than 100 Olympic and Paralympic medals. Ackalitis, who also serves as the College of Staten Island’s Head Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Coach, helped build the bridge with Fitter & Faster’s Director of Camp Creation Susie Weisman to bring the program to CSI’s natatorium, open to swimmers in two groups, aged 9-11, and 12 and older.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic it was my goal to figure out a way to draw more community attention in our pool, both for showcasing and to help the Staten Island swim community, so I thought this was a great fit,” said Ackalitis. “Traveling to various pools for CSI swim meets, I always saw or heard of Fitter & Faster’s services and having Olympians to run clinics was something we were very interested in.” 

Fitter & Faster conducted its first clinic at CSI on the weekend of January 20-21 and featured U.S. Olympian Nick Thoman, who visited with CSI’s NCAA Division II swimming and diving teams before providing instruction on proper start-turn-finish techniques in the pool. Thoman, a silver medalist at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in the 100-meter backstroke, also won the bronze in the 200-meter backstroke. He earned a gold medal swimming the backstroke leg for the winning U.S. team in the preliminaries of the 4×100-meter medley relay.

“Having Nick here created a buzz and a great atmosphere, especially in the middle of winter training between semesters,” said Ackalitis “These training breaks can be long and repetitive. Sometimes it’s great just to have a different voice, but to have his voice and hear his experiences had everyone perked up including myself. I was listening and learning like most others. The biggest thing I immediately learned about Nick was that his passion for swimming and perfection is probably the reason he was so successful in the sport.”

The clinic held at CSI drew swimmers from Staten Island, Brooklyn, Long Island, and New Jersey to CSI’s pool, and the event was so successful, that two more clinics have been scheduled. The next event will be held on the weekend of April 6-7, a butterfly and breaststroke clinic with Australian Olympic silver medalist Josh Watson. Another event is scheduled for late July.

“For our swim teams, it’s a great offseason event, and it’s building relationships with different community swimmers and coaches,” Ackalitis said. “Participants come from all over the metro area to train along Olympic talent and the clinics give us a chance to show off our great campus and facility to swimmers who might not have had the opportunity or reason to come to campus.”

To get more information on Fitter & Faster Swim Camps, visit their Website. Registration is also open now for their April event.

View the full gallery of U.S. Olympian Nick Thoman and his visit to CSI.