Before Tony Padvaiskas took over the swimming program at St. John’s Prep 16 years ago, the head coaching position had been a revolving door. So former swim team captain Tom Gately and his mother spoke to Padvaiskas about taking over the program.
What a great move that turned out to be for both Padvaiskas and the Eagles.
Padvaiskas met with then-SJP athletic director Fred Glatz in 1997 and was hired immediately. He’s guided the swim team ever since and his squads have won the last seven Division 1 state championships.
Tomorrow, he’ll see many of his former standouts at the inaugural St. John’s Prep Alumni Swimming and Diving Meet at Salem State University beginning at 10 a.m. The 57 current swimmers on the Prep roster will swim against the alumni.
“I’m not as fast as I was in high school or college, but I’m willing to put in a good effort against the teenagers that I coach every day,” said Gately, who has been Padvaiskas’ assistant the past eight seasons and was his first captain.
“Tony means so much to the Prep community and every single person he has come in contact with. I use a lot of the lessons he taught me in my current career as an attorney — and even more as his assistant coach. The idea of working hard, being dedicated and being able to look in the mirror every day and be happy with who you are ... that’s what is most important to him.”
Gately started preparing for the alumni event by researching the program’s history from its very beginning, then got busy inviting former coaches and alumni dating back to the first team in 1977-78.
The array of talent coming to SSU to renew old friendships and take on this year’s Prep team is dazzling. In fact, there have been so many responses that extra heats have been added in many events.