Visitors sitting poolside at this year’s Boston AYF Olympics could very well get caught up in a Detroit “Kopernik Tandourjian” tsunami.
Expected to compete this year is a K-T trio unlike anything the organization has ever seen. All three have qualified to participate in the USA Olympic Trials in an attempt to make the swim team that will represent the United States in the World Olympic Games being held in London, England this August.
They are the brother-sister tandem of Carolyn and Nick Arakelian, 18 and 16, respectively, and Michael Zennedjian, 22.
“To have three AYFers from one chapter who have qualified at this level is an incredible feat we can all celebrate and share with pride,” says mentor/guru Sonny Gavoor. “They may or may not make the Olympic team this year but getting to this stage of competition is monumental.”
No doubt a “new wave” of talent has entered the AYF ranks, following such acclaimed families as the Kaiserians from Philly, Karapetians from Detroit, and back in the 80s the Hananians from Boston.
All have set a previous standard that provided their share of thrills and applause at these events. Should all go according to script, expect a few records to fall. And should Detroit pile up the anticipated points, it could be another banner championship year for the Motor City gang.
The Arakelians reside in Livonia, children of Michael and Carol Arakelian. The father is a policeman who works extra hours and three jobs to provide private swim lessons for his four children. All are high achievers academically and in their swimming endeavors, where they are nationally ranked in their respective age categories.
This becomes very costly to the Arakelian family since private coaching costs $100 a month per child. When the children are invited to swim competitively, whether in-state or on the road, the cost falls on individual families.
Nick just returned from an invitational week of competition, swimming with the top 24 athletes in his age group in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.
In the past, Caroline and Nick were invited to attend the USA Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for evaluation and advance training with the top 30 in their respective age divisions.
Caroline swam for the Detroit AYF last year, winning four gold medals while eclipsing two records. She led her relay team to a long-sought-after victory from dead last to first, getting a high scorer’s trophy in the process. She’ll be attending Queens College in Charlotte, N.C., on a full swim scholarship.
Nick will transfer up from the Juniors and awaits his debut in Boston alongside his sister. The results should be astounding. Sister Becca is waiting in the wings to join her AYF siblings next year.
Zennedjian is a graduate of Xavier College in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was captain of his swim team and conference swimmer of the year for the past three years.
He is the son of Michael Zennedjian and grandson of the late Garbis Zennedjian.
Michael also captained Brother Rice High School swim team to two state titles. In the 2005 Homenetmen World Games in Athens, Greece, he represented the United States together with the three Karapetian brothers to lead the team to victory.
In a most remarkable showing, this quartet won all 13 events entered while setting world records in each.
Michael also represented the Detroit chapter last year in the AYF Olympics, winning three gold medals and a high scorer’s trophy.
While in college, Michael worked part-time to cover expenses throughout his four years. He has also qualified to participate in the USA Olympic Trials in Omaha during the week of June 22 to July 2, where he will be responsible for paying his own expenses.
No doubt, some of these swimmers may have rubbed elbows with the Karapetians along their AYF journey or in the outside competitive world, which is vast with talent. It’s a pool meant to be shared by those who show promise and aptitude, where 1/100th of a second can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
And while we’re at it, should you be anywhere near the jumping pit, you might want to catch Steve Tutunjian going airborne.
The Providence AYF superstar is among the top collegiate jumpers, breaking records at Lehigh this past year. At his best, he may just uncork a 50-footer in the triple and a 23-footer in the long jump since both those marks were surpassed over his season.
As the years turn into decades, prominent athletes come and go. They will be remembered for the legacy they set and the momentum they gave the AYF. It’s a destiny that knows no end.