EDH Athlete of the Week: Leon Kassianenko

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Leon Kassianenko won six individual events and swam on a pair of winning relay teams to lead the El Dorado Hills Taz at the Suburban Swim League championships held last month at Sierra College.

Kassianenko dominated the 17-18 boys’ division, as he placed first in the 100-yard individual medley (53.86 seconds), the 100-yard backstroke (54.22), 100-yard freestyle (47.67), 100-yard breast stroke (1:00.16), 50-yard butterfly (23.63) and the 50-yard freestyle (21.62).

Kassianenko also swam with Raghubir Chimni, Terry Chen and Kevin Taylor on the winning 200-yard medley (1:38) and 200-yard freestyle (1:27.64) relay teams.


Folsom Telegraph: What have you been doing this summer?

Leon Kassianenko: This summer I have been working as a coach for the EDH Taz swim team, volunteering at Marshall Hospital, and I have been training twice a day since this is my last summer I can compete as a swimmer.


FT: What are your plans for the upcoming school year?

LK: This upcoming school year, I am taking very difficult classes and am on my way to getting into the Sacramento State Nursing School.


FT: What do you plan on studying in college and why your interest in the subject?

LK: I plan on entering the Sacramento State Nursing School. Both my parents are nurses so I have been interested in the field for a very long time.


FT: Do sports run in your family?

LK: Yes, my dad used to be a professional bodybuilder.


FT: How long have you been swimming and how did you get your start in it? How long have you been a member of the Taz swim team?

LK: I have been swimming on and off since I was 5 years old, and I have been swimming for Taz for four years.


FT: What do you like about swimming?

LK: I like that the sport of swimming has made me stronger physically and mentally throughout the years. I love that it has allowed me to compete, stay healthy, and make friends along the way.


FT: Do you have a favorite swim stroke and if so why is it your favorite?

LK: My favorite stroke is breaststroke because it has always been very challenging for me, and I enjoyed being able to improve myself this summer.


FT: What is your best/favorite event and why?

LK: My best and favorite event is the 50 free because it is short and sweet.


FT: You recently finished your career with the EDH Taz, dominating the boys 17-18 age group at the league championships. What are your thoughts on your performance?

LK: Overall, I am very pleased with my performance and all of my races. My goal was to help my team as best as I could and to retire on top.


FT: Do you have a most memorable moment swimming with the Taz? What will you miss most about it?

LK: My most memorable moment swimming for Taz was winning every race at champs and finally getting our two relay records with my teammates. I will miss the competition, the friends, and being able to coach so many up-and-coming swimmers.


FT: Who has been the biggest influence on your swimming career and why?

LK: Tim McCormick, my high school swim coach, has been the biggest influence on my swimming career. I was on the verge of quitting the sport, but he convinced me to stick with it and helped me develop and mature as an athlete and a person. I also want to give recognition to the head coach of Taz, Rommy Zapp, for being very understanding and supportive this summer and helping me achieve all of my goals.


FT: Have you ever been involved in any other sports?

LK: I have also played basketball, soccer, tennis, and hockey.


FT: Favorite Food?

LK: My favorite food is onion rings.


FT: Favorite music?

LK: My favorite music is classic rock.


FT: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.

LK: I had a pet fish but he died. His name was McLovin.


FT: Do you have any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

LK: In my free time, I like to nap, swim, and, of course play ping pong!


FT: What inspires you in sports?

LK: Helping my team, my teammates, and being a good role model for younger athletes inspired me this season.


FT: What are your career goals? Are you interested in a certain type of job/career yet?

LK: My career goals are to graduate nursing school, become and RN, and eventually become a nurse practitioner.