If there is a race during a swim meet at the Rollingwood Swim Club, expect to see one of the Aldave children winning it or near the lead for the Seals.
Six of Jeanne and Alfie’s kids have all been on the swim team and five of them just completed the regular season on Saturday, July 23, with a dominating 363-111 victory win over Meadowbrook.
Lucia Aldave, 20, is the oldest and first to make the team. Last summer was her final swim season, but she returns from college at the University of Dayton to cheer on her siblings.
“It’s really nice that there are so many of us because I feel like in every event we always have somebody to cheer for,” said Lucia, who is also head lifeguard at the pool. “A couple years ago we had one kid in each age group.”
This year, the veteran of the bunch is Angelina, 18, who will be a freshman at Ohio State this fall.
“Angelina, since 8-and-under, has always been one of the top two fastest in her age group,” her mom said.
She is finishing her 13th season on the swim team and is having a banner season. In her five meets she had seven first-place swims, including victories in butterfly and backstroke against Meadowbrook.
“I get nervous for Angelina when she swims because I know she’s nervous,” said Jeanne, noting she worries most about them losing their goggles.
Elena swims in the same 15-18 age group and will be a junior at St. Paul’s this fall.
She plays basketball and lacrosse for the Gators and was on the IAAM A Conference championship lacrosse team that defeated Glenelg Country School in the spring.
Playing both sports all year round and working has cut into her availability for all the meets this season, but it doesn’t diminish her passion for the sport and the pleasure she gets watching her sisters and brothers.
“We always cheer for other people on our team, like who we are friends with, but it’s always fun to cheer for you own family too,” Elena said.
She admits that races spark her competitive edge.
“I will tell myself before I swim, ‘It’s not that big of a deal how you do, ‘but no matter how I do, when I’m done I’ll be upset at the fact that maybe I could have done better or I’ll still be upset if I lost,” she said. “I’ll tell myself it doesn’t mean anything, but it actually does because of how naturally competitive we all are.”
Keela, 14, will join Elena at St. Paul’s as a freshman this fall and play lacrosse and basketball.
The youngest swimmers are Alfie, who swims in the 11-12 age group, and Lorenzo, who swims with the 8-and-under boys.
“I practice with 9-10, but I’m in 8-and-under,” Lorenzo said proudly.
Coach Joe Miller, in his 19th season as head coach, admits Lorenzo is the most likely to have fun.
“He’s getting there, he’s still young and we need to get everybody back in shape with the techniques and stuff like that,” he said. “He’s probably one that just enjoys swimming for the fun of it more than any of them.”
The coach first met the family when he swam one summer season with Jeanne at Hunting Hills and since he took over as coach at Rollingwood he has admired the family’s dedication to each other.
“The big ones take care of the younger ones and get them going when they can barely make it across the pool when they are three and four years old,” he said. “They definitely have been surrounded by a family support system.”
Although the regular season is over, the Seals will compete at the Straehle Invitational meet at Padonia Swim Club tomorrow and at the divisional championships on Saturday, July 30 at Maple Lawn.
Because of COVID restrictions, the Straehle Invitational has not been held since 2019.
Angelina, Keela and Alfie all are competing in relays at Straehle.
When Alfie competed in the Straehle in 2019, he finished fifth in butterfly, ninth in backstroke and sixth in mixed relay in the 8-and-under division.
Alfie also plays baseball, soccer, basketball and tennis and admits baseball is his favorite sport.
In the pool, he’s been a front-runner in the backstroke, but his favorite stroke is butterfly.
Don’t be fooled by his relaxed attitude on the block before a race.
“He was never nervous, he doesn’t wear a cap, he just wears goggles,” Elena said. “He looks like he’s not a swimmer when he’s standing on the block, but once he gets in, he is super fast.”
He didn’t have a qualifying time when he was moved up to the 11-12 division this year, so they put him in the first heat, which is supposed to be slower, and had the fastest time of both heats.
“His backstroke is faster than some 15-18′s,” said Jeanne, who played soccer, basketball and softball at Seton and Seton Keough and also ran the New York Marathon in 1996.
She has given up running, but enjoys swimming at least two miles every day with the Adult Seals at Rollingwood and at the Catonsville YMCA and she doesn’t stop for anyone.
“It’s my time and nobody can talk to me and nobody can text me because I can’t answer my phone,” said Jeanne, who also does open water swims.
Keela and Elena have no problem sharing the pool with their mom or dad Alfie, who swam in the summer for Five Oaks and at Mount St. Joseph in high school.
“We are a swimming family,” Keela said.
“Swimming is a sport I could say that every one of us is going to do our whole life,” Elena added.
Mixing sports on any given day is no problem.
On one November day, Angelina had to go from a swim meet to lacrosse, basketball and soccer.
“She made them all,” her mom said.
Keela also enjoys the multiple sports.
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“It’s nice to have something to do afterward because I play basketball and lacrosse all year round, but those tournaments end early to mid-July, so it’s nice to have swimming to do so I’m not just like sitting around,” she said.
Although Lucia aged-out after last season, she is proud of the way Lorenzo has developed in his five years with the team.
“He has no nerves at all, but he knows he has to swim fast and he tries really hard,” Lucia said. “I remember helping him when he was really little before he joined swim team because he wanted to go off the diving board and I remember practicing with him in the five feet and I had a noodle and I would kind of be swimming in front of him. He was doing that for his swim test to get all the way across the pool to go in the deep end.”
Now, he has no problem getting to the deep end using a variety of strokes.
“My favorite stroke is butterfly, but I’m fastest at freestyle,” said Lorenzo, who finished first in butterfly in the meet against Meadowbrook
His mom knows he will most likely complete the race from start to finish, just like his older siblings have always done.
“My kids have never stopped,” she said.