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Episcopal Academy swimmer Ivan Puskovitch is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

Ivan Puskovitch at his open water swim in Atlantic City last summer.

The EA junior set pool records in the 200 IM (1:54.06) and 500 free (4:32.09) in the Churchmens’ recent win against Germantown Academy, and was a part of the winning relays for both the 200 medley and 400 free relays. Last winter, he finished first in the 200 IM and 500 free at the InterAc Championships, and finished third in both events at Easterns. He also received first team All-Main Line and first team All-Delco honors as a sophomore. Outside of EA, he qualified for the 2016 FINA World Junior Open Water Championships in Hoorn, Netherlands, to represent the United States.

Q: You set pool records in the 200IM and 500 free against Germantown Academy. What were the keys to your success in those events that day?

A: The keys were a combination of trusting my coach and his training all season and having a great practice that morning, as well as taking advantage of the warm-up-warm-down pool during the meet. I already held the pool record in the 200 IM, so re-breaking that was unexpected, however I’ve been eyeing the 500 pool record for several seasons and breaking that has always been a goal of mine.

Q: What was your most vivid memory of the meet against GA – can you share it with us?

A: Honestly, seeing the whole EA team lined up along the side of the pool going crazy for the last 100 yards of my 500 freestyle. Also, the reaction of my coach, Chris Lear, during my race since he wasn’t giving me the impression I was on pace for the record; it made seeing my time on the board feel even more special.

Q: What (in your opinion) has been the best swim of your EA career to date – can you share with us your memory of it, and what was working particularly well for you that day?

A: My favorite memory of my EA swimming career so far is when I competed in my first ever Easterns as a 7th grader, where I managed to final in the 500 with a time of 4:52.64 and break the Middle Atlantic LSC 11-12 record, which had been held by Fran Crippen for many years.

Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?

A: I do 12 practices every week, and I train every day of the week. Monday through Friday involves a 75 minute practice in the morning before school starts, followed by a two hour and 15 minute practice after classes. I also do 45 minutes to an hour of dry land three days a week after my second swim session. On Saturdays I swim for three hours, and on Sundays I swim for two hours. Monday through Saturday I do all of my training with my coach Chris Lear, who coaches me in both club and school, but on Sunday I swim with one of my old coaches, Dick Shoulberg.

Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?

A: This season my coach and I have been trying to put a bigger emphasis on strengthening my flip turns and kicking farther underwater off of the walls, both things that still need much improvement.

Q: What pool did you first swim for? What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?

A: My first team was the Greater Scranton YMCA Stingrays, and my favorite venue to compete is the University of Maryland.  I went there in 2016 to race in USA Swimming Futures.

Q: Who have been your biggest swimming mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?

A: My biggest swimming mentor by far has been my Mom.  She was the one who taught me how to swim, and coached me up until my 13th birthday.  Coach Chris, who has been my coach since my 13th birthday, has nurtured and supported a passion I have for another aspect of the sport — open water racing.  He coached me to the 2016 FINA World Junior Open Water Championships.  Lastly, Coach Shoulberg, simply because he’s a living legend on the deck.

Q: Tell us a little about your pre-meet preparation the day of a meet.

A: Before a high school meet, apart from morning practice, I make sure to get a long swim in for the entire duration of warm-up and fuel up with gel packets before my races.  I also get in the warm-up-warm-down pool for about five minutes prior to competing.

Q: What would you like to major in at college? Is there a particular career path that interests you at the present time?

A: Right now I’d like to major in kinesiology or exercise science while in college.  After I complete my education, I’d like to pursue a professional open water swimming career, and then follow that up with a job still related to swimming, such as coaching or working with USA Swimming.

Q: Do you participate in any other extracurricular activities at Episcopal Academy? What sparked your interest in these activities?

A: Between my swimming and schoolwork, I don’t have much time for extracurricular activities; however, I work year-round as a lifeguard. Although it’s not an organized activity, I play the electric bass in my down time.

Fun facts – Ivan Puskovitch

Favorite book: The Stranger.

Favorite author: Albert Camus.

Favorite TV show: Freaks and Geeks.

Favorite movie: Corvette Summer.

Favorite athlete: Fran Crippen and Chip Peterson.

Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Kashmir, by Led Zeppelin.

Favorite team: USA National Open Water Team.

Favorite place to visit: Netherlands.

Favorite pre-meet meal: Alfredo pasta.

Person I most admire, and why: “My Mom, because she is the strongest person I know, and Fran Crippen because he was a noble ambassador to the sport of open water swimming who achieved many things in it and fought to make it better.”

Family members: Robyn Rabinovitch (mother), Vladimir Puskovitch (brother, EA ’20)

(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)

 

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