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NYer Of The Week: Richard Finkelstein Gets His Swimming Team To Succeed In School

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Getting kids involved in sports is not only good for their health but, as this week's New Yorker knows, can also help improve their school work. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

Time matters for Richard Finkelstein and the Flushing Flyers. But on this team, it is not about being the fastest.

"It's an overall picture. We are trying to develop them into young adults. We keep them off the streets, we teach them time management," Finkelstein says. "One thing we stress is don't compare yourself to anybody else at swimming, just compare yourself to yourself."

Finkelstein discovered a love of the water playing water polo growing up. Since then, he has given his life to helping young people discover the benefits of swimming, starting as a coach at the Flushing YMCA 27 years ago.

"There are many nights when I get three or four hours sleep. There's so much paperwork involved and learning new skills and things to teach them," Finkelstein says.

He is driven to improve the team in the pool, and also at school.

"He makes sure we do school work and swimming. School comes first and then we swim," says Jennifer Arana, a swimmer.

"As a parent, I'm watching not only my kid get better at swimming but at managing their time and being great at school," says David Groshen, whose child is on the team. "This team is about the academics. This team is about if you don't get your homework, don't come to practice."

Here, lessons in the water translate to lessons in life.

"You're motivating yourself but your teammates are helping you be motivated and you're learning to reach goals, set goals," says Finkelstein.

"No matter how hard the situation is, just give it a go," says swimmer Alan Li. "He's a role model for me. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be a successful as I am now."

So, for inspiring young swimmers to go that extra mile, Richard Finkelstein is the latest New Yorker of the Week.

For more information, visit flushingflyers.com.

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