Avon High School senior Zac Cesaro is going to Y Short Course Nationals April 2 to 5 for the second time in his club swimming career for the Plainville Wheeler Tiger Sharks.
“Last year, I got the best times in Florida,” said Cesaro; the meet was held at the International Swimming Hall of Fame pool. “I liked going to Florida…. Making times is an achievement in itself.”
But because Nationals is in Greensboro, NC instead next week, it will be a change of pace. Yet, that does not intimidate Cesaro.
“It was exciting to be surrounded with that many fast swimmers from all over,” Cesaro said of last year's Nationals.
He qualified to compete in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 back and 200 back, though he can only swim in four, so he's deciding which one to drop.
It is not uncommon for Cesaro to frequently see other swimmers he knows in competition, like Ray Snyder, of Waterbury, and Jeff Magin, of Brookfield, who both compete against him on YMCA club teams and in statewide meets. He’s swum against Snyder since age 8.
“It’s definitely a friendly competition,” Cesaro said.
That camaraderie carries over to the team.
“High school swimming is a lot about a team…like a family,” Cesaro said.
Swimming also runs in his family. His mother, Diana Cesaro, the Avon High swim coach, brother, Matt and sister, Cassie are all swimmers. Zac Cesaro was in the pool at a young age.
“I definitely have a calling for the sport,” he said.
Diana Cesaro started coaching her kids when she disliked how Matt was being coached during one club season. She coached at the Y, Camp Chase and eventually came to Avon High School as a volunteer assistant coach before becoming head coach.
“She’s been my coach my entire life,” Cesaro said. “I like her as my coach.”
Plus, he said, she can be very direct with him when coaching because, as his mother, she knows he can handle it.
Zac is a member of the varsity soccer team at Avon High, so Diana Cesaro gets the fall season off from coaching and enjoys watching her son from the sidelines.
At Y New Englands last weekend at Harvard, Zac Cesaro placed second in the 50 (21.94) and 100 free (47.18) and third in the 100 back (53.1). There are qualifying times you have to hit to make New Englands or Nationals.
At the Class M State Final at Wesleyan mid-March he broke two of his own Avon High School records by 2 seconds each and claimed fourth in those races – 200-yard freestyle (1:44.25) and 100 backstroke (52.77).
During the high school season, Class M is a fast group, so it is much more difficult to qualify as an All State athlete. If h were in a class with less competition, Cesaro said he could probably qualify.
“I picked the wrong races in terms of getting All State,“ Cesaro said. “To an extent, I like the class. The All State glory isn’t there. It’s a very objective sport.”
However, Cesaro did not go without recognition and still was invited to the All State banquet last week because he received the CIAC James Brody Scholar Athlete award, based on his grades and times.
He was the only one from his high school team to qualify for State Opens at Yale. He finished fifth in the 200 free and seventh in the 100 back.
“I was happy with my swim. It’s a fun meet, Cesaro said. You see some very fast swimmers.”
Cesaro is waiting to hear back from Ivy Leagues and Johns Hopkins before he decides on a college. But one thing is certain; he will be swimming. He hopes to major in chemical engineering. Cesaro is also involved in student government at the high school and is a Relay for Life coordinator.