April 20, 2017 at 1:41 pm EDT | by Kevin Majoros
Intensive training
Team New York Aquatics, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Kevin Majoros)

It has been a longstanding tradition in the sports community for athletes to attend training camps in their respective sports. Most camps feature top-notch coaching, intensive training and athletes who want to better themselves. Attendees in any given sport run the gamut from ages 8-80, lay to professional athletes.

One can also find training camps in the LGBT sports community. Last month, about 40 swimmers from New York to California to Paris to D.C. attended the annual Team New York Aquatics swim camp for seven days of training at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale.

Led by coaches Abi Liu, Brian Cairns and David Hovey, a typical day for the swimmers was as follows: morning dry land training followed by a two-hour practice in the pool, followed by a stroke clinic. More dry land and another swim practice was held each evening. Camp bonding took place daily at restaurants, Sebastian Beach, house parties and nightclubs.

Meet one of the coaches and six swimmers who participated at the swim camp.

Abi Liu

Abi Liu
(Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Location: Raised in Wenzhou, China. Now living in San Jose, Calif.

Occupation: Head coach of 150 age group swimmers at Peak Swimming. Runs two swim schools, Saratoga Star Aquatics and Milpitas Star Aquatics with 4,500 students weekly. Graduated from San Jose State University.

Sports background: Started swimming at age 8. Captured a title at the Chinese Junior National Championships at age 13 and was recruited to the Chinese National Team. Former Chinese national record holder in the 200 meter backstroke, two-time Chinese national champion, gold medalist at the FINA World Cup, silver medalist at the Asia Games and bronze medalist at the FINA World Championships. Two-time Pacific Swimming coach of the year. Serves as an ambassador for USA Swimming on the LGBT Cultural Inclusion Group.

Reason for coaching Swim Camp: “This is very different from what I do daily as an age group coach as masters swimmers bring a different dynamic. I came in with no expectations and I am walking away so rewarded. I have been surprised by everyone here stepping out of their comfort zone and showing a willingness to learn. It motivates me as a coach. I have received and I have learned from these swimmers as much as they have from me. To be surrounded by members of my own community was like instant family. I felt that warmth immediately.”

Warren Perry

Warren Perry (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Location: Raised in Kinston, N.C. Now living in New York, NY.

Occupation: Aquatics director at Convent of the Sacred Heart.

Sports background: Started swimming at age 7. Age group state champion in the butterfly and individual medley. Swam for four years at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Targeted 2017 sports competitions: International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics World Championships (World OutGames) and the New York City Marathon.

Reason for attending Swim Camp: “I started with Team New York Aquatics in 2011 and ended up having surgery from a torn labrum. I just got back into the water last year and have been focused on doing things that are good for my soul.”

Rodrigo Corcho

Rodrigo Corcho (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Location: Raised in Girardot, Colombia. Now living in Los Angeles.

Occupation: Works at Delta Airlines.

Sports background: Started swimming at age 8. Broke the Colombian national age group breaststroke record at age 13 and was sent to train in Brazil. Started swimming with West Hollywood Aquatics in 2004.

Targeted 2017 sports competitions: U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals, International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics World Championships (World OutGames), FINA World Masters Championships and the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals.

Reason for attending Swim Camp: “I am looking to improve my times and feel stronger in the water. This is my second swim camp of the season and I am feeling like an Olympian.”

Jeremy Davidson

Jeremy Davidson (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Location: Raised in Santa Clarita, Calif. Now living in Oakland.

Occupation: Works as an educational therapist in private practice. Graduated from Middlebury College.

Sports background: Swam in high school and started swimming with San Francisco Tsunami in 2012. Current co-president of the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics board.

Targeted 2017 sports competitions: U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals and the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics World Championships (World OutGames).

Reason for attending Swim Camp: “I want to push my training to a new level, make new friends and be inspired by others who are pushing themselves.”

Kate Chialastri

Kate Chialastri (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Location: Raised and lives in Philadelphia.

Occupation: Works as a statistician at Janssen Pharmaceutical, assistant swim coach at Penn Charter and as a swim coach with the Philadelphia Fins.

Sports background: Swam for four years at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Started swimming with the Philadelphia Fins in 2011.

Targeted 2017 sports competitions: Delaware Valley Championships and the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics World Championships (World OutGames).

Reason for attending Swim Camp: “I want to jumpstart my training for the OutGames and I needed a less guilty vacation. This is my fourth time at this camp and the group is very welcoming. I feel like I am more connected to the LGBT community even though I am just an ally.”

Dan Bell

Dan Bell
(Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Location: Raised in Drexel Hill, Pa. Now living in Burlingame, Calif.

Occupation: Works in finance and operations for a biotech company. Graduated from Drexel University.

Sports background: Baseball, roller hockey, soccer and squash. First attempt at swimming laps was in college.

Targeted 2017 sports competitions: Ironman 70.3 Santa Rosa, Ironman 70.3 Boulder and the Lake Del Valle Open Water Festival.

Reason for attending Swim Camp: “Since I was a latecomer to the sport, I wanted one-on-one coaching to improve my technique and efficiency.”

Brian Jacobson

Brian Jacobson (Photo by Kevin Majoros)

Location: Raised in Downey, Calif. Now living in Minneapolis.

Occupation: Works as a business analyst at the University of Minnesota.

Sports background: Started swimming at age 5. Former U.S. National Junior Team member. Swam for two years at Stanford. Qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1992, 2008 and 2012. Has lowered the FINA world record three times in his age group in the 50-meter freestyle.

Targeted 2017 sports competitions: U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals, International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics World Championships (World OutGames), FINA World Masters Championships and the U.S. Masters Swimming Summer Nationals.

Reason for attending Swim Camp: “This type of distance training isn’t a good match for what I need as a sprinter, so my practices will be modified. I am here because it’s Florida, it’s fun and the boys are cute.”

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