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List of Interest
(Click to read)

La Jolla
Rough Water Swim

La Jolla
Rough Water Swim

250 Yard Swim
One Mile Swim

Beach Party
Leo Carrillo
State Park

Is This Your Mom?
By Sara Cremidas
(circa 1995)

Imperative For Parents ToTime At Meets Their Children Attend
Coach Gunther Niklas

Head Coach Niklas' Report

Last Half of the 1999
Spring Schedule

Miscellany . . .

Colin Powell's Rules
Former Chairman
Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S.
General U.S. Army


This year brought many swimmers back for another year of competition with the waves in the warm-up area too much for the Sunday swimmer. A few familiar rivalries took place and some newcomers to the event were welcomed. Congratulations to Leia Marasovich, Garrett Mata and Jim Baluyot on their first ocean swim.

250 Yard Swim
Kayla McClafferty (5:08) and Erin Griley (5:16) finished 23rd and 28th out of 50 swimmers in the girls age 11 category. Overall they finished 125th and 145th out of 305 girls and boys participating in the junior 250 yard swim.

One Mile Swim
There were 251 swimmers in the amateur one mile swim this year. For the girls (144) there was Michelle Germain (21:45) finishing 7th out of 60 in the 13-14 age group. Overall she finished 23rd amongst the girls and 59th out of all the amateur swimmers. Leia Marasovich also finished the one mile swim but has yet to have an official time due to modern technology.

For the boys (107) there was Garrett Mata (24:51) finishing 34th out of 49 in the 13-14 age group. Overall he finished 77th amongst the boys and 156th combined girls and boys. Jim Baluyot (24:25) finished 30th out of 37 in the 15-16 age group. Overall he finished 71st amongst the boys and 139th out of all the amateur swimmers.

In the master's one mile swim was Jared Meyer (24:20) finishing 8th out of 34 swimmers in his age group and just within the top 100 at 99th place out of 542 master's men in the one mile swim.

Gatorman (Three Mile Swim)
Of the 378 swimmers there were 273 men becoming Gatormen. Finishing 256th out of the 378 was Finn McClafferty (1:21.59), also known as Kayla's dad. His time of 1 hour 21 minutes and 59 seconds put him 31st out of 45 in his age group.

Get to Know Your Parents
 Support Group Members Better

Beach Party 
Leo Carrillo
State Park


Stingrays Swim Team had five (5) swimmers entered as Stingrays in one or more events in the 14 Years & Under age groups at the 1999 Junior Olympics held at Belmont Plaza Olympic Stadium in Long Beach, March 17-21, 1999.  The swimmers were William Baier, Tatiana Blankenship, Blake Nilsson, Lauren Rowlands, and Shani Shousterman.

In addition, two (2) other Stingrays swimmers, Sara Cremidas and Allia Saptoro, qualified for the meet with one or more AAA times.  They swam "unattached" because of the their CIF high school swimming.  Sara swam the 1000-yard freestyle and achieved her same best time.  Allia swam in three (3) events: 50-yard freestyle; 100-yard backstroke; and 200-yard backstroke.  She had a personal best in the latter race. 

 The Stingrays swimmers dropped time in most of their events. Shani Shousterman demonstrated, in full measure, the "Stingrays Spirit" of never say die.  She swam under the extreme handicap of fighting a flu bug.  Great effort Shani.

 Of particular note was Lauren Rowlands who earned a first place spot in the finals in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events (team records) and a sixth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke and a seventh place finish in the 200-yard freestyle.  William Baier achieved a twelfth place finish in the 50-yard freestyle.  Blake Nilsson dropped time in his two (2) events and achieved a fifteenth place finish in the 50-yard breaststroke.  Tatiana Blankenship dropped time in two (2) of her three (3) events and was an inspiration in cheering on her team mates.

 Coach Gunther Niklas said, after the meet, "I'm so proud of the five (5) Stingrays participating swimmers - they all gave 110%!"

Putting their achievements at the meet in perspective, Coach Niklas stated that "The achievements of the Stingrays swimmers were even more noteworthy considering that we are a small team that was competing against 1,067 entered swimmers from sixty-four (64) teams from all over Southern California and southern Nevada.  Further, our swimmers, in the aggregate of the events they swam (10), achieved a ratio of fifty-eight percent (58%) faster times.  Not bad . . . to say the least!"


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Stingrays Successful
In Lead-up Meets
To Short Course Junior Olympics

The Stingrays swimmers were successful at the three (3) lead-up meets to the 1999 Short Course Junior Olympics.  These meets were:  (1) Commerce Aquatics 29th Annual Valentine Swim Meet; (2) Whittier Wahoos Swimming "AB" Short Course Meet; and (3) Downey Dolphins Aquatics "AB" Short Course Meet.

Commerce Valentine Meet
 This one-day meet was held in the City of Commerce on February 13, 1999.  Stingrays swimming in one or more events included: Chris Baier, William Baier, Natalia Barsumian, Tatianna Blankenship, Sara Cremidas, Korie Katsumoto, Blake Nilsson, Bryce Nilsson, and Lauren Rowlands.  Every Stingrays swimmer dropped time in one or more of their events.

 Chris Baier dropped about two and one-half seconds on the 100 I.M.  William Baier placed in the top six places in five (5) of the six (6) events in which he swam.  Natalia Barsumian dropped time in all four (4) of her events, ranging from three (3) seconds to ten (10) seconds.  Tatianna Blankenship dropped time in all six (6) of her events and placed fifth (5th) or better.  Sara Cremidas dropped time in five (5) of her six (6) events, placing sixth (6th) or better with a second (2nd) place finish in 100-yard freestyle.  Korie Katsumoto dropped significant time in two (2) of her events.
 The Nilsson brothers both did well dropping time in many of their events.  Blake dropped time in four (4) of his five (5) events, placing third (3rd) in one.  Bryce dropped time in two (2) of his four (4) events.  Lauren Rowlands established three (3) meet records finishing first (1st) in five (5) of her six (6) events.  She dropped time in all her events save her second (2nd) place finish.

Whittier Wahoos Meet
 This meet occurred on February 20th and 21st at the sponsor's home pool in Whittier.  Participating Stingrays swimmers were: William Baier, Tatianna Blankenship, Sara Cremidas, Lauren Rowlands, Allia Saptoro, Bria Saptoro, Nicole Shattuck and Dmitry Uchitel.  They all had a great meet.

 William Baier had two (2) fourth (4th) and one fifth (5th) place finishes in his four (4) events.  Tatianna Blankenship had five (5) personal bests in her eight (8) events with all single digit finishes.  Sara Cremidas had a personal best in her 100-yard backstroke.   Lauren Rowlands had ten (10) first (1st) place finishes, which were all personal bests.  She also set a team record in the 100-yard backstroke.

 Allia Saptoro had three (3) personal bests and two (2) first (1st) place finishes.  Her sister, Bria, also did well with two (2) second (2nd) place finishes and a third (3rd).

   Nicole Shattuck had five (5) personal bests, including second (2nd) and third (3rd) place finishes.  Dmitry Uchitel had one (1) personal best and third (3rd) or better in his seven (7) events including two (2) first (1st) place finishes.

Downey Dolphins Meet
 This meet was held on March 5-7, 1999 at the Downey Community Aquatics Center in Downey.  Stingrays swimmers entered in one or more events were:  William Baier, Jeremy Blankenship, Tatianna Blankenship, Blake Nilsson, Lauren Rowlands, Bria Saptoro, Nicole Shattuck, Shani Shousterman, and Tali Shousterman.

 Despite being "bugged" by a bug of unknown origin, William Baier gave it his all in his three (3) events - in keeping with the Stingrays Spirit of "can do".  Jeremy Blankenship achieved five (5) personal bests AND a first (1st) place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.  His sister, Tatianna had three (3) personal bests as did Blake Nilsson.  Lauren Rowlands had five (5) personal bests and six (6) first (1st) place finishes.

 Bria Saptoro had a first (1st) place finish and personal best in her 100-yard  breaststroke as well as two (2) second (2nd) and one third (3rd) place finishes.  Nicole Shattuck achieved three (3) personal bests.  Shani Shousterman had five (5) personal bests along with a first (1st) and four (4) second (2nd) place finishes.  Her sister, Tali, had a second (2nd) place finish and personal best in her 100-yard butterfly as well as dropping almost six (6) seconds in this event.

 Sara Cremidas and Allia Saptoro swam "unattached" due to CIF rules for high school swimmers.  Sara took off 24 seconds in the 1650 with a time of 19.14 just missing a JO time by 4/10ths of a second.  She also took off 3 seconds in the 1000-yard freestyle as well as 2 seconds in the 200-yard freestyle.

 Coach Niklas was asked by one of the parents for his assessment of the team within the context of these three (3) lead-up meets to the JO's.  He said, "I'm almost speechless (but, not quite); they all, each and every one of them, gave it their ALL.  They worked so hard and the great results speak for themselves.  It's a real honor to be associated with this outstanding bunch of kids!"


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Is This Your Mom?
By Sara Cremidas (circa 1995)

There are two kinds of moms in the world.  Moms who enjoy relaxing, and our moms, who live to enjoy stress producing activities, like swim meets.

 Swim meets are more than just swimming in a race.  It's being with best friends.  We come with swim bags filled to capacity, coolers, tents, folding chairs, blankets, stop watches around neck, shoes prepared to get wet, towels for each event, hats and sun glasses. Don't forget the sunscreen.   It's really amazing, since it only takes a suit, cap and goggles to swim.  These three things could fit into one pocket.  There's so much stuff it now takes a basket on wheels to carry everything from the car.  We are prepared for the hot or cold (maybe even a blizzard). 

It's 6:00AM and moms are bouncing out of bed, ready with excitement to go to the meet.  They've been waiting all week for this day. No matter how the weather conditions are, moms get us to the meet on time prepared with extra caps, goggles, towels, eye drops and snacks.

 "Did you check in?" This is a standard early morning question. A swim mom can't wait to spend at the meet shop, looking for the latest swim suit, cap or goggles.  She enjoys several cups of hot coffee in the early AM while we're warming up, tri-tips at noon, and rice crispy treats in the PM.  She never reads the books or magazines she brought, the needlepoint that has taken years to complete, or computer work needing to be done by the next morning.  Instead, moms dawdle over how hot or cold we are, what foods we eat, remind us that we went to bed too late the night before, that we should "wake-up" for the day and swim faster than ever. 

When standing on the block waiting to make that dive, rain or shine, we see at the opposite end our moms with stop watch in hand.  In the distance, we hear our names screaming out to go, go, go!!! Although, once in the water, we can't hear a thing.  At the end of our event, we get greeted with a warm towel and a hug and even though we've added a little time, our moms say, "it's okay".  Moms then can't wait to record every little 100th second when results are posted, proud of even the 2/100th second we took off for that event. 

 "Did you check your heat and lane?", another standard line we hear fifty times throughout the day, and always too far ahead of the event.  When you think about it, this eight hour day involves less than fifteen minutes of swimming the whole day.  But, our moms live for these days, despite the hot sun, cold and traffic.

  As the day ends, moms are sad that it can't go on forever, but then remembers that the next day is a repeat of today and the smile is there again, just waiting for that 6:00AM alarm to ring.  What more can we ask for?  We have moms that love and support us and I wouldn't change one moment of it.  I will always remember these days for the rest of my life.


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Imperative for Parents to Time
At Meets Their Children Attend
Coach Gunther Niklas

All parents whose children are swimming at a meet MUST time each day of the meet, when the team is obligated to time by the Section. This is NOT an option!

 At times, it is the OBLIGATION and RESPONSIBILITY of the Stingrays Swim Team to maintain one or more timing chairs, based upon the number of Stingrays swimmers entered.  The team has no choice but to do so, 

The Olympic Section has also expressed concern regarding team-timing obligations and timing assignments. They may begin fining teams for failed timing assignments.  We need all parents to share in the burden.

 By signing up for your children to swim at a meet, you agree to time and support the swimmers and their team.  In fairness, those who are not willing to fulfill this agreement will not, and should not, swim at the competition.

 So, parents please sign-up for timing each day, when you arrive at the meet, if we have one or more chairs.  If all parents will fulfill their timing obligations, it will make it easier on everyone.

I want to acknowledge and thank those parents who always time at every meet, every day - some doing more than their fair share by timing twice or more at some meets.


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Head Coach Niklas' Report

With the completion of a successful short course season, it is time to look back at the previous year and examine what worked and what did not work in our program.  By doing so, I am confident that we will have our most successful year ever.  Looking back, there is much to be excited about.  The previous year taught me many valuable lessons.

 I have been greatly impressed with how well the swimmers have responded to greater challenges.  Their trust and support have been tremendous and rewarding.

 At the short course Junior Olympics at Belmont Plaza, Long Beach, our swimmers all performed like winners.  Of the highlights, I was thrilled to see Lauren Rowlands achieve her dream of taking first in two events.  She accomplished this even though she had been ill for several days prior to the meet.  What a great competitor she is! 

 I was moved to see how Shani Shousterman swam with so much heart and courage.  She trained for so long and hard for this meet, yet was seriously ill for several weeks.  She handled her disappointment extremely well.  Her winning attitude will serve her well in the future.  I was proud to see how Tatiana Blankenship busted through her plateau.  She had a great meet and is now progressing rapidly again and dreaming of her goals.

Blake Nilsson's making consolation final will be a springboard for him to keep improving and climbing toward the top.  I think Sara Cremidas and Allia Saptoro learned a lot about how to race their events properly.  The two both dropped time and they will have a great CIF meet.

William Baer proved what a talented competitor he is by dropping time and barely missing the final by only .one-hundredth (.01) of a second!  It is my goal to see that every swimmer in my group qualifies for Long Course J.O.'s.  With their hard work and dedication, it is possible.

 Looking forward, a valuable lesson I learned is that there must be understanding and cooperation among parents, swimmers and coaches.  The progress our swimmers and team make depends, to a great extent, on this relationship.  Lack of support is a major concern.  I am blessed to have so many supportive and constructive people around me.  It is my goal to create a team environment of mutual support and cooperation, where the swimmers will be able to achieve their potential.  I am very happy with the Parents Support Group we have now.  They have done a great job, given me much support, been objective, and kept the politics out.

 I believe the best kind of parent is one that recognizes that the coach is the coach.  A swimmer needs to relate to his or her coach their concerns with swimming matters.  This relationship produces the best results.  I have seen, too often, parents that interfere with opinions as to how the swimmer should swim or train.  This causes much confusion as to which the swimmer should listen.

Parents need to recognize that it is the coach's job to motivate and constructively critique the swimmers' performances.  It is the parents job to supply the love, recognition, and encouragement necessary to help get the child to work harder and smarter at practice.  Realize that your child is working hard and give all the support you can including the encouragement of good diet and sleeping habits.

With the younger swimmers, parents and coaches need to be patient and permit them to learn to love the sport.  Even the best swimmers will have meets where they do not do their best times. Plateaus are a normal and frustrating part of swimming.  We need to be supportive and understanding at these "difficult" meets.  Over the course of the season, if the swimmer has been training, eating and sleeping properly, their times should improve.  Older swimmers may have only two (2) or three (3) meets per year in which they will be rested, shaved and tapered.

As coaches and parents, we should not see the first place person as the only winner.  We should teach our children to always behave like champions and winners, no matter where they place.  I think we are seeing this from many of our swimmers and I hope this ideal continues to develop.  Swimming and other sports are a vehicle that can teach life skills.  Winning without learning is not a desired outcome.  In competition, the most important measure is who learned the most from the experience, not what place they finished, or who dropped the most time.  If the swimmers can develop concentration, a strong work ethic, listening skills, goal setting, and sportsmanship, they will become champions!


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Last Half of the 1999
Spring Schedule

The last half of the 1999 Spring Swimming Schedule (revised) is shown below for the months of April, May and June. 

3rd Clinic 9:00 - 11:00 a.m./11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Private Lessons CANCELED 
10th - 11th ABC Meet LC @ SHOR
17th Clinic 9:00 - 11:00 a.m./11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Private Lessons
24th Clinic 9:00 - 11:00 a.m./11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Private Lessons

1st - 2nd ABC Meet LC @ CERR
8th Clinic 9:00 - 11:00 a.m./11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Private Lessons
15th Clinic 9:00 - 11:00 a.m./11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Private Lessons
22nd- 23rd ABC Meet LC @ IHAC
28th - 31st ABC Meet LC @ CSA ADDED 

5th Clinic 9:00 - 11:00 a.m./11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Private Lessons
12th - 13th ABC Meet LC @ DWNY
19th Clinic 9:00 - 11:00 a.m./11:00 - 12:00 p.m. Private Lessons
26th - 27th BC Meet @ BAC

Former Coach Kisa Kirkpatrick will be helping Coach Niklas on the Saturday morning clinics as scheduled above.  She will also be helping Coach Niklas during the Summer on the morning workouts.  Welcome back Kisa!


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Miscellany . . .

Happy Birthdays and Best Wishes to:
Jeremy Blankenship, Janene Dater, Ashley Feldman, Yuriy Iskrenko, Chantelle Prophet, Lauren Rowlands, Dima Uchitel, and Olivia Vamosiu.

Editor's Notes - Please let your editor know what is happening with individual Stingrays swimmers that is newsworthy - even if it isn't newsworthy, let us know.  This news can either be related to Stingrays or other swimming activities, school or participation in other organizations or events.  We'll try our best to use as much of this material as possible (so far, there has been a dearth of it!) within the very real constraints of space and time.  Thanks much!

Upcoming Meets - We are looking forward to a good turnout for upcoming meets.  The May Meets are: ABC Long Course Meet at Cerritos on May 1st and 2nd, ABC Long Course Meet at Industry Hills (IHAC) on May 22nd and 23rd, and ABC Long Course Meet at Conejo/Simi (CSA) on May 28th - 31st (Memorial Day Weekend).  See you there!

Web Page - Everyone associated with the Stingrays wants to thank the Stingrays Webmaster, Yuval Shousterman for the countless hours he has devoted to designing and maintaining our temporary web page.  Thanks from all of us for your good work, Yuval.

We are working on astablishing a permanent domain name  Webmaster Yuval will notify everyone when it is operational.


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Colin Powell's Rules
Former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
U.S. Department of Defense
General U.S. Army

1. It ain't as bad as you think.  It will look better in the morning.

2. Get mad, then get over it.

3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when you position falls, your ego falls with it.

4. It can be done!

5. Be careful what you choose.  You may get it.

6. Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.

7.You can't make someone else's choices.  You shouldn't let someone else make your choice.

8. Check small things.

9. Share credit.

10. Remain calm.  Be >

Transfer interrupted!

d be demanding.

12. Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers.

13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

Some other "gems" from the General on leadership and young people . . . "you can't lecture them as to what they are supposed to do.  The way they really learn to do the right things in life is by watching.  They may not always listen to everything or anything you say, but they are ALWAYS watching what you do . . . and if they see from adults, parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and others with influence in their lives, that those people are living lives of value, then the children will tend to likewise."

"The greatest gift we give our children is putting them in a place in the world and not just letting them wander around . . . do what you want, see what you want, watch anything on TV you want.  THEY NEED STRUCTURE."

"Never walk past a mistake . . . correct it on the spot."


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Get to Know Your Parents
Support Group Members . . . Better



The members of the Parents Support Group are your representatives.  It is imperative that you give them your comments and suggestions and, yes, your complaints about matters affecting the swimmers and the team. 

 They invite you to seek them out and let them know whatever is on your mind regarding the Stingrays - EXCEPT for training and other related matters, which should be directed to Gunther -- or any other topics e.g., the business environment, the global economy, current fashions, anything.  These support group members are identified in the following list:

Afsaneh Afkhami
Carole Blankenship
Trisha Commons
Jackie Cremidas
Tina Nilsson
Charleene Feldman
Dee Dee Rowlands
Bert Ruegg

If you have a particular matter that you would like the Parents Support Group to research, review, discuss and, possibly, take action on, don't hesitate to bring it to the attention of any member.   Don't hesitate to talk with them or to call.

 While we're at it, the coaches and their phone numbers are cited below for your convenience:


Gunther Niklas   (805) 252-0479
    Pager: (805) 373-3387


Gary McDowell   (818) 346-0056
Jonathan Bresson (818) 773-0103

Please, talk with them before or after the workouts or call them at home.


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