Welcome to Willemstad, Curaçao!

The motto for our competition has always been “swimmers without borders” – and we are delighted to bring our event to the Caribbean this year. Bulado Swim Club is proud to invite you to Willemstad, Curaçao from the 14th-16th of October, 2016 for the 11th year of our unique swimming competition!

Considered one of the best-kept secrets of the Caribbean, the island of Curaçao is not only known for its beautiful beaches and gorgeous natural landscapes. Capital city Willemstad, on the east side of the island, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history dating back to the 17th century. During your time off from the pool, you can explore the city’s heritage, do some shopping, hang out at a café or experience Curaçao’s dining scene. Alternatively, you can get in touch with nature on the west side of the island – known for its small fishing villages, secluded beaches and the 1800-hectare Christoffel National Park.

Hosting the EU Swim in Curaçao during October will allow you to take advantage of the lower costs that accompany the off-season. There are non-stop flights from the United States and from the Netherlands in Europe, with connecting flights available to any part of the world, so the island is easily accessible! If you want to combine your holiday with a trip to the United States, Miami is only a three-hour direct flight from Curaçao. Check out the Curaçao Tourism Board website here to plan the perfect holiday!

The recently renovated Asiento facility boasts an 8-lane 25 meter pool equipped with non-turbulent lanelines, a separate smaller pool for warmup purposes and ample spectator seating for family, friends and supporters. We’ve divided the meet into 4 sessions with timed finals only on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning. This will allow you to have a wide range of events to choose from so that you can have ample time for sightseeing in between sessions.

Teams who wish to make their trip to Curaçao into a training camp experience prior to or after the competition are welcome to contact the organizers for arrangements at [email protected].

We are very excited to be working with the Bulado Swim Club for the 2016 edition of this event. More details will be made available soon. Join us on the island this October and enjoy a weekend of fast swimming and fun in paradise!




Paris 2006
Liege 2007
Slupsk 2008
Aarschot 2009
Neuchatel 2010
Miskolc 2011
Tampere 2012
We have been to…

This year, we’re headed to…

  • Willemstad, Curaçao!

Instructional swimming videos, customized workouts, technique tips, swimming reviews, and more!

 

The Alhambra Beach Resort: A Home Away From Home

By Julia Galan

(Photo provided by Alhambra Beach Resort)

(Photo provided by Alhambra Beach Resort)

When Matt Crescitelli first moved to Florida from Pittsburgh, he was unsure what the future might hold. While running his own landscaping business and working on property management was initially satisfying, Matt’s dream was to become involved in the travel industry. After getting to know many of the properties in the Fort Lauderdale area through his business, Matt finally decided to act on his dreams and purchased what was then a small, low-budget hotel property in 2004. Ten years later, the Alhambra Beach Resort is TripAdvisor’s #1 consumer-ranked hotel in Fort Lauderdale, and recently placed 7th among the top 10 U.S. resorts for exceptional service as rated by TripAdvisor reviewers.

Getting to the top wasn’t easy and Matt faced quite a few challenges along the way. The building needed a variety of structural improvements, and those improvements required investment. The price of the rooms necessarily increased and as a result, the original clientele left – requiring Matt and his team to build a new client base from scratch. It took nearly five years for the Alhambra to make any profit, and Matt recalls having to borrow from his business partner each year in order to pay off the costs of running the hotel. Matt persevered, however, and his determination finally began to pay off. Clients began to spread the word. The Alhambra earned a membership in Florida’s Superior Small Lodging association recognizing independently owned lodgings that meet the state’s highest quality and service standards. And when TripAdvisor arrived on the scene, the Alhambra finally began to receive major attention and business doubled.

Courtyard at the Alhambra

Courtyard at the Alhambra

I became acquainted with the Alhambra Beach Resort on a recent trip to Fort Lauderdale, and experienced first-hand the exceptional service provided by Matt and his team. I had planned my trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida carefully. Dates were set, airline tickets were purchased, rental car reserved. The only item left on the checklist was to choose the perfect place to stay. As a swimmer, I wanted to be close to a great pool (the Fort Lauderdale Aquatics Complex at the International Swimming Hall of Fame, or the world-renowned Coral Springs Aquatics Complex  only 30-40 minutes away) and a great beach. TripAdvisor has always been my go-to for finding accommodation when I travel, as it is for so many others. The Alhambra was listed as #1 in Fort Lauderdale, and reviews raved about the service, the peace and quiet, the complimentary amenities, and the ideal location right across the beach. I expected it to be good. It turned out to be better than the best and became my true home away from home during my visit. TripAdvisor had got it right.

The Alhambra - a welcoming establishment

The Alhambra – a welcoming establishment

 

The Alhambra is tucked away on a quiet street just off the main North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard and right across the street from the beach. The airport was an easy 7-mile drive away and it took us about 10-15 minutes to arrive. As we pulled in to our free parking spot, and began to unload the car, we were surprised to see one of the staff, Daisy Velez, come out to greet us. Daisy introduced herself and lead us inside the courtyard, giving us a tour of the property before showing us to the room. It was such a nice first impression to have someone waiting for us when we arrived, welcoming us as though we were old friends, and making us feel at home and comfortable.

Room 5 at the Alhambra

Room 5 at the Alhambra

 

The room itself was a delight. The Alhambra has a total of 12 rooms for guests to choose from, ranging from one to two bedroom apartments, to suites, to efficiencies, to traditional rooms. We had chosen Room 11, a rear efficiency with a full kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and bathroom that ran for $119 per night at the summer rate. The room was clean, cheerfully decorated, and inviting – it almost felt like a studio apartment! It was easy to get settled and feel at home quickly. Given the proximity of the Publix supermarket (about a 5 minute drive away), we were also able to get food and supplies easily and kept the fridge well-stocked during our trip.

Courtyard by moonlight

Courtyard by moonlight

 

Even better than the rooms is the courtyard area of the Alhambra. With its inviting lounge chairs, tables and umbrellas, a pool, and lush, tropical garden of palms and hibiscus, it is perfect for lounging. The courtyard is also particularly beautiful at night, with a soft glow lighting the way as you walk through, and the pool shining in the moonlight. A gate at the entrance of the property provides privacy and additional security. The atmosphere is so restful and relaxing, you almost don’t want to go anywhere else! This is also where a free continental breakfast is served each morning from 9-11 AM. The food and drinks are set up on the shady veranda – and the choices are plentiful, with a mini fridge nearby stocked with milk and orange juice. After a great practice at the aquatics complex, we would return to a relaxing breakfast each morning. The courtyard is also the social “hub” of the Alhambra – if you want it to be! Our fellow guests were friendly and we heard a variety of languages being spoken – from French to Dutch to German to Spanish. After breakfast, you can grab one of the free beach chairs and a beach towel from the frequently replenished basket on the veranda, choose from a number of available sunscreens or suntan lotions, and walk across the street to the beach.

Fire up the grill at the Alhambra!

Fire up the grill at the Alhambra!

Need a complimentary beach umbrella or some ice to keep your drinks cool on the sandy shores? Just ask in the office – they offer those amenities, too! And when you don’t feel like going out to dinner, why not do a little grilling on the gas grill that is always available to use? Everything that we needed was right at our fingertips during our stay.

There is no question that the Alhambra itself is a beautiful property, and that is part of its delightful charm. But more meaningful and beautiful – and what really makes this place special – is its staff. As Matt Crescitelli explained, the staff works together as a team and, although each staff member has specific responsibilities, they do their best to avoid hierarchical labels. The Alhambra team takes the perfect approach to their guests – ready to help, but not overbearing or pushy.

My very first interaction with the Alhambra was through Edward Duarte, with whom I worked on confirming and finalizing my reservation. It was pleasant and unique to be able to get to know the staff even before arriving. Edward and Daisy both manage the office, and were always helpful when we needed anything – from ice for our coolers, to help with the AC in our room, to mailing postcards to our friends overseas. We also met Jimmy, who kept the grounds and especially the pool area immaculate and was a tremendous help when we needed to do some grilling on the patio. And of course, it was a real pleasure to get to know Matt and co-manager (together with Matt Poehler) Bill Otley.

IMG_20140520_135128By the end of our visit, all of the staff members felt more like family than hotel management, and the Alhambra felt more like a home than just a hotel. I am already eagerly anticipating my return visit! When you are in the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County area and looking for a relaxing and comforting place to stay, the Alhambra Beach Resort should be your first priority. Just remember to book early so that someone won’t get your room before you do! Thanks again to Matt Crescitelli and the entire Alhambra staff for a wonderful stay. See you soon!

Kaisla Kollanus: Simmis Hyvinkaa’s Swimming Globetrotter

By Julia Galan

Kaisla bringing home the gold at the 2014 Big East Championships

Kaisla bringing home the gold at the 2014 Big East Championships

When Hyvinkaa’s Kaisla Kollanus travelled to Paris to participate in the first EU Swim series in 2006, she had no idea that the international swimming event would arrive in her hometown – hosted by her club – over nine years later. A sprint and mid-distance freestyler, Kaisla is now a rising junior at Villanova University, having made the decision to move to the United States for her college education and to swim for Villanova’s NCAA Division I team. Although Kaisla will not be able to attend the EU Swim in her hometown this year, she is excited to support Simmis Hyvinkaa and be there in spirit!

We recently sat down with Kaisla to discuss swimming, her move to the States, and some suggestions of places to see in Hyvinkaa.

JG: Kaisla, when and how did you first get involved in swimming? And what is your specialty stroke?

KK: I’m a sprint and mid-distance freestyler and also do sprint fly. I’ve been swimming for as long as I can remember. I started with swimming lessons at a local pool and then continued in their club team. Later on, I started to swim with Simmis Hyvinkaa as they could offer better opportunities to swim competitively.

JG: Right now you are swimming for and attending Villanova University – what year are you? How have you adjusted to living in the US and attending college here, and has it changed your overall attitude or perspective on life?

KK: I am halfway through my college career as I just finished my sophomore year here at Villanova. These two years have gone past super-fast and attending college in the states has been an exceptional experience. Adjusting to the life here took me quite a while and was rather problematic but looking back, it’s been worth every moment! I’m very grateful that I’ve had the chance to live abroad and see the world from a different perspective. Also, living in a different country has made me more independent and taught me a lot about myself and the world around me.

JG: So, how did you choose Villanova over other universities? Had you visited the US before?

Kaisla with her sister, Noora, prior to a triathlon event last year.

Kaisla with her sister, Noora, prior to a triathlon event last year.

KK: I had never been to the US before I flew over one day prior to the start of college orientation. Thus, deciding to study and swim here was one of the biggest decisions in my life. During my high school senior year, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to study after high school or where. So I applied to a couple of universities in Finland but also started looking at schools in the US, as a few of my swimmer friends were studying there and that seemed like a great adventure. I was looking for good academics as well as a great swimming program, and Villanova sounded like a good match. I also liked the small size of the school, the location, and its values. One of the swim coaches visited Finland and I had the chance to talk with him in person and learn more about the university and what Villanova has to offer. Everything I heard sounded awesome and as I later on talked to more people at Villanova I became convinced that this was the right place for me.

JG: How have your family, friends and teammates in Hyvinkaa supported you on this journey in swimming and in life?

KK: I would not have gotten this far without my family and friends. They have always been there for me whenever I’ve needed something. Even when I’m far from home, I know that I can always stay in touch with them and they are ready to support me in whatever I decide to do. I haven’t been practicing with Simmis Hyvinkaa in a long time but whenever I get the chance to go back home, I’m always welcome to train with them whether it’s just for one practice or for a longer time. That’s been a great advantage and I always feel like I’ve returned home whenever I swim in the Sveitsi pool.

JG: What has been your most rewarding experience so far and what are your goals for the future?

KK: Throughout the years I’ve learned that swimming gives so much more than just the results or awards or medals you can achieve. So, it’s hard to mention just one experience that would have been beyond others. Rather, I would say that it’s all the friends I’ve made, all the training camps, all the places I’ve visited, and all the good races among everything else. But if I had to choose, I would say that the most rewarding experiences have been the chance to represent Finland internationally and wining a Finnish Championship title back in 2011. I haven’t set any clear goals for the future as at this point. I just want to enjoy swimming – make the most out of every practice and see how far I can go with that.

JG: That’s a great attitude to have! On that note, what advice would you give to international swimmers who might want to live and swim in another country, whether for college or otherwise?

Kaisla, far right, with her Villanova teammates at the Big East Championships

Kaisla, far right, with her Villanova teammates at the Big East Championships

KK: First and foremost: DO IT! It’s most likely a once-in-a-lifetime chance and even if it’s not always easy or enjoyable you will get to see the world and do things that you would never do otherwise. Living abroad often times forces you to step outside your comfort zone and, in my opinion, that is one of the best ways to learn more about yourself and the world around you.

JG: And back to swimming, do you have a favorite workout set and/or a drill that you’d be willing to share?

KK: One of my favorite drills is reverse freestyle aka freestyle feet first. It requires a lot of coordination and and you must feel comfortable in the water, both of which are important for any swimmer, I think.

JG: What do you like to do when you’re not swimming?

KK: When I’m not swimming, studying keeps me busy for sure. Besides that, I love the outdoors, hanging out with my friends, and playing sports.

JG: You participated in the very first EU Swim in Paris back in 2006 with the Simmis Hyvinkaa. How do you feel now that the EU Swim is coming to your hometown?

KK: I can clearly remember my trip to Paris to the first EU Swim meet – it was so much fun! I’m very excited that Simmis Hyvinkaa got to host the EU swim this year and hope that Hyvinkaa can offer local and international swimmers great experiences and long-lasting memories.

JG: And on a related note, what are your favorite things to do in and around Hyvinkaa? And what would you suggest our participants take the time to see and do while they are in Finland?

View of Hyvinkaa

View of Hyvinkaa

KK: Hyvinkaa is surrounded by beautiful nature, and there are wonderful running trails right behind the Sveitsi pool. Along the trails you can find your way to the Sveitsi skiing hill. Of course, you can’t ski in September but the top of the hill provides you a great view over Hyvinkaa and its surroundings. Also, the Hyvinkaa church is worth checking out – I think it has quite a unique architecture.

Thanks, Kaisla, and wishing you much success as you continue your college experience at Villanova!

 

Countdown to Hyvinkää 2014!

On 13-14 September, the town of Hyvinkää, Finland and the Simmis Hyvinkää swimming club will be welcoming teams from Finland, Europe and beyond to the Sveitsi swimming pool for the Hyvinkää Open 2014! We wanted to introduce you to the Simmis Hyvinkää team and its members. They are looking forward to meeting you in September!


By Sanna Yritys

Hvinkaa_3Simmis Hyvinkää, was founded in 1993, with the vision of being an active, innovative, competitive swimming- oriented club. And that it has truly become!

Notable Swimmers…

At the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Mia Hagman represented Finland in the breaststroke. Another Simmis Hyvinkää breaststroker, Sanna Multanen, represented Finland at the European Junior Championships in Glasgow in 2003. Both of these swimmers also held Finnish records in the breaststroke events.

Simmis Hyvinkää has also distinguished itself at the National Age Group Championships, winning second place overall in the team scores. Swimmer Petja Yritys won 22 consecutive Age Group events, bringing home gold medals over a period of 3 years. He represented Finland at the European Youth Olympics in Tampere 2009, and was selected for the Youth Olympic Friendship Camp in Singapore in 2009. Kaisla Kollanus, another swimmer Simmis Hyvinkää, represented Finland at the European Junior Championships in Prague in 2009. Kaisla is currently swimming in her sophomore year at Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Notable Coaches…

Hyvinkaa_5Simmis Hyvinkää has pursued quality training for its swimmers by hiring professional coaches. Coaching as a profession is a relatively new concept in Finland and in this regard, Simmis Hyvinkää has lived up to its reputation as an innovative and quality training-oriented club. Mr. Kari Ormo, known both in Finland and abroad for his achievements as a swimming technique analyst, is one such coach. He worked in Hyvinkää for about 10 years, partially employed by Simmis Hyvinkää. During his time with the club, he coached Sanna Multanen to success in the breaststroke.

Mr. Kari Vierimaa coached Mia Hagman to success at the Olympics in Atlanta under difficult conditions, including the renovation and total closure of Hyvinkää’s Sveitsin swimming pool in 1995.

Current Activities and Coaches…

Hyvinkaa_2Pertti Yritys is currently head coach and chairman of our club since August 2013. A coach at National Swim Team events for over 20 years, Pertti coached his son Petja, as well as Kaisla Kollanus, to success.

Sanna Yritys coaches the youngest swimmers in the competition and technique groups, and leads small-group instruction teaching adults how to swim. Sanna swam for HyUS in Hyvinkää before heading to the Mission Viejo Nadadores in 1983 as part of their pre-Olympic team. She then swam for the University of Minnesota for four years between 1985-1989.

Pertti and Sanna also team up to coach a masters group, as well as a swimming technique group for adult swimmers. Additional instructors provide water aerobics classes and coach a fun new water polo group for 8-12 year olds.

Unique ideas…

Hyvinkaa_1In addition to competitive swimming, our club has pursued innovative and dynamic ideas to help the community become more familiar with the water. We have taught baby-swimming, beach lifeguarding, and swimming lessons for the city of Hyvinkää. We have also hosted afternoon clubs for first and second graders, water discoes, and movie nights at the pool and also run an ice-cream booth during the summer months. We have tried to employ our younger swimmers, mostly as swimming instructors.

We are very excited to welcome the EU Swim to Hyvinkää as the Hyvinkää Open this year! Hosting this competition is part of our plan to continue improving upon our mission to be an active and quality-oriented swimming club. This September we are looking forward to the cheerful and happy reunion of all past EU Swim participants and to making new friendships with new teams. Many, many thanks to Julia Galan for making this happen again this year!

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