Carson Natali never swam competitively before last year when he joined the Pinkerton Academy swim team as a manager. It was then he was started training in the pool twice each week, like the other swimmers.
At first, Natali, who has autism, took nearly two minutes to swim 50 meters.
But as the season progressed last winter, Pinkerton coach Ed Faszewski noticed much improvement in Natali’s technique. One particular difficult practice, Natali was swimming especially well.
Faszewski challenged Natali. He told the then-sophomore if he could swim the 50-meter freestyle in 55 seconds or less, then the team would be done with practice early.
“As you can imagine he was very apprehensive as he did not want to let his teammates down,” Faszewski explained.
Natali added: “I was kind of nervous. People were cheering for me that I would get it done. I was trying as hard as I can to get everyone out of practice.”
The cheering grew louder as Natali neared the finish.
“When he touched the wall with a 53 second time he had the biggest smile,” Faszewski said.
Natali has become quite an inspiration to his teammates and Faszewski. The 17-year-old Pinkerton junior has excelled in his year and a half with the team. He no longer is manager but instead trains every practice for the entire two hours and swims in meets. He has lowered his times significantly.
The 17-year-old junior swims 50 meters in :41 and the 100 freestyle in 1:32.
“(His teammates) see he’s put in the time and that if you put in the time and you have a good attitude, good things can happen,” Faszewski said. “It’s infectious because the other kids can see the accomplishments, the small steps that he’s taken for the big picture and know they can do the same.”