2010-12-01 / Features

Big Sea, Big Heart

Frank Sacchetti Jr. Frank Sacchetti Jr. “The sea surged toward the shore at Beach 113th Street in Rockaway Park, red flags served as stern reminders to swimmers to be careful.”

St. John’s Prep senior and Astoria resident, Frank Sacchetti Jr. surveyed the scene from his lifeguard chair. Suddenly, the Reel Drill Code, or in lifeguard language manpower needed, sounded. Sacchetti knew the plan, knew the fact that a serious situation was at hand. He leaped into action and hastened to begin the two-mile run to Beach 75th Street. 

On arrival, in the distance, he saw seven swimmers who had been swept 100 yards offshore by a rip current. Sacchetti swam out to the shipping lanes joining several other lifeguards. Taking their positions, they set the rope lines and eventually brought the swimmers safely home, completing the most dangerous of the 11 rescues the 17-year-old Sacchetti would make that summer.  

Sacchetti summed up the experience by saying, “To be able to say I helped save a person from dying is something I am really proud of.”

He took swimming lessons through the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Youth Organization at age seven. One day a young friend slipped into the deep end of the pool and without a thinking, Frank swam to help him. In a panic, the boy climbed on Frank’s back, endangering them both with a death hold. By prayer, luck and sheer determination, they made it to the shallow end. It was an encounter that motivated Sacchetti to become the best swimmer he could.

In high school Frank joined St. Sebastian’s swim team. He competed seven years with the St. Sebastian Dolphins and won four city championships under the tutelage of Swim Coach Shawn Slevin. Last winter he qualified as an ocean lifeguard through the New York City Parks Department.

Sacchetti also uses his skills to teach underprivileged children through the Swim Strong Foundation, a program founded by Slevin. Especially dear to him is his role as swim instructor to children with autism. 

Captain of the St. John’s Prep Varsity swim team, Frank is a role model, and his pursuit of excellence extends into the classroom.  A true scholar-athlete, Frank is an honors student who maintains a GPA of 97 in his advance placement courses. He was also selected by the faculty to be a member of St John’s Prep Campus Life Team that helps run retreats for underclassmen.  

Now preparing for college, Frank hopes to study at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. 

“Being a lifeguard has made me mindful that life is very precious and very, very fragile,” Sacchetti said.



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