Junior Darren Rubenchik hopes to make this season his best yet. The NSU Swimming and Diving team member is a quick start and a fast swimmer.
Rubenchik, an international student from Ontario, Canada loves being in the water. Since he was a little boy, his passion has been swimming — a sport he learned from his father Ivan Rubenchik, a former South African national champion swimmer.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Rubenchik’s family immigrated to Canada when he was a child. He grew up in a suburb outside Toronto called Richmond Hill. There, he practiced competitive swimming and grew up to be a leading collegiate swimmer.
Before coming to NSU, Rubenchik swam for his high school Westmount Collegiate Institute and for the Richmond Hill Aquatic Club, under Coach Konstantin Danailov — a former coach of the Canadian Olympic team. Rubenchik won nine gold medals in 2007 at the Maccabiah Games in California. In 2005, Rubenchik was on the national record breaking team for the 4x100m medley relay at the Canadian Swimming Nationals.
As a freshmen at NSU, Rubenchik took the top-spot with a time of 1:42.79 in the 200-yard medley. In the 100-yard butterfly he placed second. He provisionally qualified for the NCAA in the 200-yard backstroke during the SSC Championship, with a time of 1:54.24. Racing in the 400-yard freestyle relay, Rubenchik and his team finished ninth with a time of 3:12.25 at the Sunshine State Conference Championship.
In his sophomore year, Rubenchik achieved a personal best time in the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly, posting times of 52.60 and 1:54.20, and in the 100 and 200 backstroke, posting times of 52:75 and 1:54.24.
I sat down with Rubenchik and asked him a few questions:
Do you enjoy swimming?
It’s a love-hate relationship; it has its ups and downs. But more ups than downs. I’ve been doing it for so long, so you got to love it.
How long have you been swimming?
I started competitive swimming when I was about 5 years old. But I have been in the pool ever since I can remember. My dad was a national champion in South Africa, so he kind of threw me in with him, and I have been doing it ever since.
What do you like about swimming?
I love racing, winning, the teamwork and the tough practices when you do a good job. There is no better feeling than that.
What is the difference between swimming in Florida and swimming back home in Toronto?
There are so many differences: the support the school gives you, the great facilities, the outdoors … the competition is a lot better, funding, it’s much more informative, and there is a greater sense of swimming as a whole.
What’s your best or favorite stroke?
My best and favorite I have to say is the butterfly for either the 100 race or the 200 race, and also some backstroke. But I love butter-fly.
What is it like when you win a race?
No better feeling than winning. I have to say that picking up individual wins is a good feeling, but if you win a relay, especially when you’re competing at conferences or nationals, that is one of the biggest things that you can do to help the team.
What’s your favorite part about being on a swim team?
I’d say it’s the camaraderie between the guys, the overall team where everybody pushes everyone to do better. We’re striving for one goal, and we think about it every day, and we are looking forward to achieving it.
What is the best meet you ever made?
I would have to say that qualifying for nationals back home in Canada was tough, but I also competed internationally in the Maccabiah Games and that was one of the best meets that I think I ever swam.
What do you do to pump yourself before a race?
Pretty typical: listing to music to get into the zone and also having the guys around. We have a loud and proud team and we do our cheers before our race and there is a great sense of support between the guys.
Has it all been worth it?
Definitely. A lot of pain, a lot of struggles — but in the end, there’s nothing better.