Background-image
Former Greenwood swim standout joins Lemieux as assistant coach

 

Written by Jay Gearan:

WORCESTER — On the pool deck, it all comes back for Don Lemieux and Kristy Martin Fuzellier — those thousands of pre- and postrace discussions about technique, turns, times.

The deck at Greenwood Memorial Pool in Gardner is where they met 26 years ago — the coach and the 6-year-old novice swimmer.

"Let's see how you can swim," Lemieux said to her on that winter morning in 1987.

And off she dove into the water, soon to be a young star on Lemieux's Greenwood Swim Club, later a gold-medal butterfly ace on four Gardner High state championship teams before moving on to a Division 1 swimming scholarship at Indiana University.

Married now with a résumé that includes a very successful college coaching career, Fuzellier, 32, was back on deck with Lemieux a few days ago, this time at the bright and spacious year-old pool at WPI.

For the upcoming season, Fuzellier will be Lemieux's top assistant coach for Greenwood Swimming which — after the closing of the Greenwood pool — is now based in Worcester at WPI and the Central Branch YMCA.

"I told Kristy a long time ago if she ever wanted to coach with me, I had a spot for her," Lemieux said. "I'm fortunate and the team is fortunate to have her."

A 2003 graduate of Indiana, Fuzellier was a top-three finisher in the Big Ten Championships in the 200 butterfly and 400 individual medley. A kinesiology major and Academic All-American, she also qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 200 butterfly, 200 IM and 400 IM. Fuzellier also qualified for the Olympic Trials in 2001 in the 200 butterfly and finished in the top 16 multiple times at the U.S. Open.

"It's so refreshing for me to be back with Coach Lemieux, who I know is so excited and energetic about the sport," Fuzellier said. "He brings so much motivation and fun to his practices."

After graduating from Indiana, she stayed in-state to coach the Martinsville High swim team and also worked with the Bloomington Swim Club. For two years, she coached at MIT and for the last seven years has been the assistant men's and women's coach at Brown University.

"I enjoy working with the kids the most, and club coaching will allow me to do more of that," said Fuzellier, who added that the recruiting and paperwork elements of college coaching kept her away from the parts of the sport she loved the most — teaching and competition.

"I was always so competitive in swimming, and that's what makes it exciting," said Fuzellier, who lives in Lincoln, R.I. "Coach Lemieux instills that passion and competitiveness in his athletes. I've also started a massage therapy program and will pass national certification next spring. I think massage therapy will bring another important element to the team."

Fuzellier recognizes the values of swimming even outside the water. "Competitive swimming teaches you time management and discipline," she said. "Those things go well beyond the sport and really help in college."

And, of course, she still remembers her younger days on the Greenwood teams.

"I still have one Greenwood record left in the 100 IM for ages 11-12," Fuzellier said with a laugh. "I checked our website."

Fuzellier joins a Greenwood coaching staff that also includes another former star Gardner High swimmer, Karri LeGault.

"I really have so many good and loyal people who are with me," said Lemieux, who coached the Gardner High girls' swim teams to 16 state championships, including 15 straight.

Lemieux stressed that Greenwood Swimming isn't just for high-level, nationally ranked swimmers.

"We encourage any young swimmer, regardless of ability, to join," Lemieux said. "And they will get excellent coaching. Our goal is to first offer kids a great experience with swimming. If they want to take it to the level that Kristy took, we can help them get there."

Greenwood swimmers up to age 10 who are on a developmental level practice at Central Branch YMCA. At WPI, swimmers from age 11 to national-level swimmers in their 20s train.

"We feel very welcomed here at WPI," Lemieux said. "It's a beautiful facility but it's the people who have been so wonderful to us. We developed an incredible swimming program in the small city of Gardner, and I always wanted to come into the Worcester area and try to continue our success."

 

Follow the link to view article in Worcester Telegram:  http://www.telegram.com/article/20130822/NEWS/308239928/1009/sports