Avamarie Ginocchio was in a familiar situation. The then-junior Lawrence High School swimmer was competing in the 200 meter freestyle at a meet, and she fell behind early in the race.
By her own account, Ginocchio was not a fast swimmer. As much as she loved the sport—and she had since her mom signed her up for the Ben Franklin Swim Club when she was six years old—she never stood out in events. Just making the Lawrence team was already a major accomplishment for her.
So, Ginocchio was behind again. But she knew from losing that she already had nothing to lose. Ginocchio kicked into another gear, and touched the wall just a split-second before the leader did. When she looked up at her time, it read near 2:30—10 seconds faster than her previous personal best.
Ginocchio, now a senior, says she’s since “bloomed” from a backup swimmer to Lawrence’s fastest girl in the pool, but Cardinals’ head coach Tom Livecchi likened it more to a transformation. The first-year Lawrence coach has been working with his now-senior co-captain Ginocchio since she was in sixth grade, in summers on the Ben Franklin Swim Club. Though the club is more lax than most school programs, Ginocchio put in serious work.
“She wasn’t bad, but she needed to work at it,” Livecchi said. “She always gave more than was required. We were working together after summer practices on her flip turns.”
Livecchi helped Ginocchio with other intricacies of racing, such as her diving. Ginocchio never played any other sport as a kid, and so she applied year-round training to swimming.
“You either know how to swim or you don’t, but when you add racing to it, it’s a whole other thing,” Livecchi said. “It took her a little getting used to.”
After coming into her own last season, Ginocchio has only improved. She dropped another five seconds off her 200 meter time, and was voted as one of the team’s co-captains with “broad support,” Levecchi said. She serves a utility role for the successful girls’ team, competing in the 100 meter freestyle as well as the fly and individual medley. While Levecchi can’t call plays or schemes like other coaches, he can decide where he puts his best swimmer—and Ginocchio has been an asset in that regard.
“To have someone who will be in any race and finish in the top three, that allows us to make different decisions in other spots,” Levecchi said. “She’s probably our most important asset in that regard.”
She netted over 100 points by the end of her junior year, and has helped the team stay on pace for an even better point total this season. They’re currently 7-5, with Ginocchio holding the best times for both 200 meter individual medley and freestyle.
Outside of the pool, Ginocchio is equal parts supportive and motivational to the team, and isn’t afraid to speak up in tense moments. The fondest memory she could recall is watching a teammate break a school record, and she’s quick to call her teammates her second family. That connection may be amplified by the fact that Ginocchio’s freshman sister, Kalina, is on the team as well.
Ginocchio called her younger sister a naturally fast swimmer, competing in the individual medley and backstroke. The entire season has been a great bonding moment for the two, Ginocchio said.
“We both come home exhausted, but knowing we love doing it together,” Ginocchio said.
The girls’ team is currently eyeing states. Ginocchio’s career may not end after that, as she’s interested in continuing to swim at Ithaca College next fall. Her plan is to study art therapy, applying her studies to aiding hospitalized children.
In her free time, Ginocchio teaches swimming to children and likes to paint, a passion she discovered in a sophomore year elective class. She was a naturally good painter, and like one of her other loves, she just kept at it.
Ginocchio now finds herself a college-bound student who steals the show at swim meets.
“You know if they’re way ahead of you—of course they’re there,” Ginocchio said. “But, just see how fast you can push yourself. Crazier stuff has happened. It’s never impossible. You could always push yourself to do it.”