Teen swimmer earns scholarship honoring 9/11 victims

One up and coming Bronx high school swimmer has made a huge splash with his team, one of the most well recognized in the country.

David Mercado, 17, who hails from the Concourse Village section of the Bronx, recently earned a scholarship honoring September 11 victims which allows him to compete on the city’s top swim team.

The Asphalt Green’s Swim for the Future scholarship for Asphalt Green Unified Aquatics, which is widely considered to be one of the nation’s best and most diverse youth swim teams.

It originated from the families of swimmers, Andrew Fisher and Doug Irgang, who died in the terrorist attacks and it honors their spirit and passion for the aquatic sport.

The All Hallows High School senior previously swam for a smaller team until making the cut for AGUA which boast 325 members.

According to his swim team coach, Rachel Stratton-Mills, earning the trial spot for AGUA last month was a huge milestone for the young swimmer.

“David is such a thoughtful, sweet young man and that’s what sets him apart,” expressed Stratton-Mills. “He always asks how his coaches and teammates are doing during practice. He works very hard and it’s a pleasure to have him on the team.”

She said Mercado has never missed practice and hopes to continue swimming for either division two or three in college. She added that although he may not be in the top training group, Mercado is as committed as his peers and works diligently to improve.

“I was really surprised when I won this scholarship,” divulged Mercado. “It means that all of this hard work and dedication is starting to pay off.”

His hard work, focus, and determination has paid off in earning the SFF scholarship which 20 to 30 members can receive depending upon their financial needs, the individual’s attitude and work ethic, and family’s commitment to his or her success, Stratton-Mills explained. She added that Mercado is one of 25 people to have received the award this year.

“My son David is the best,” expressed Angela Mercado. “He’s a humble, obedient, responsible reliable young man and he is very involved in his parish, Calvary Baptist Church.”

As testament to his great work ethic, Mercado was able to afford a spot on AGUA not only through the SFF scholarship, but also from the money he accumulated from working as a summer lifeguard with the NYC Parks Department.

His many aquatic-based triumphs and credentials include a first place finish at the National Black Heritage Meet in North Carolina and swimming in the Junior Olympics.

Despite his rigorous training sessions, he is a honor roll student and interns at the New York Aquarium. He dreams of one day becoming a marine biologist.

An accomplished singer and guitar player, Mercado is a member of the internationally renowned Young People’s Chorus of New York City and Calvary Church’s Youth Band and Bell Choir founded by conductor, Francisco J. Nunez.

In addition, he has performed with his choir group at the opening of the Ground Zero Museum. Mercado’s mother revealed he has been involved with the group for over nine years and they have performed in many different countries.

The group will travel to Berlin for a spring time show, she added.

“My peers look at me now as a leader, but also as an inspiration,” Mercado said. “My success is meant to show that this is how you work hard and reach your goals.”

His primary goal is make the Olympic swim team and participate in the 2016 games.