Much of the world will be focusing on the Olympic swimming events later this month.

But some local swimmers, dreaming of being Olympians in the future, are already taking steps — or rather strokes — in the right direction through participation in the Westchester Family YMCA swim team, the West-chester Orcas.

The Orcas are finishing a remarkable summer season, sending two swimmers to the Junior Olympics in Mission Viejo later this week. Angela Chen, 10, qualified in six events and Teresa Lincoln, 13, in one event.

The Orcas took second place in the Cal Novice League championships, a Los Angeles area league composed of about a dozen teams.

Six Westchester swimmers took league “High Points,” scoring honors in their age groups for the season:

Teresa Lincoln, 13;

Angela Chen, 10;

Nicholas DeVito, 8;

Meriel Mitsakos, 8;

David Lorell, 6; and

Jenny Edwards, 5.

Additionally, the team has scored very well in USA Swimming-sanctioned meets, with many of the swimmers winning gold, silver and bronze medals.

USA Swimming is the official sanctioning body of Olympic swimming.

Information on the West-chester Family YMCA Orcas Swim Team, or aquatics director Najeeb Shamsid-Deen, (310) 670-4316.

WINGED MIGRATION — The Ballona West Bluffs Conservancy will screen the film “Winged Migration,” an incredible film that explores the mystery of birds in flight, at 10 a.m. Saturday, August 28th, on the big screen at the Laemmle Monica Theater, 1332 Second St., Santa Monica.

Doors will open at 9:45 a.m. The screening will be a “fund-raiser” and there will be music by Jon Sherman, literature and a raffle, with proceeds to benefit the Conservancy.

Jacques Perrin — long one of France’s most respected producers and actors — has captured the incredible lives of migratory birds. Five teams of people — more than 450, including 17 pilots and 14 cinematographers — were used to follow a variety of bird migrations through 40 countries on each of the seven continents.

The film covers landscapes that range from the Eiffel Tower and Monument Valley to the remote reaches of the Arctic and the Amazon. All manner of man-made machines were employed, including planes, gliders, helicopters and balloons.

Numerous innovative techniques and ingeniously designed cameras allowed the filmmakers to fly alongside, above, below and in front of their subjects.

Tickets will be sold in advance and at the door at $20 for adults or $12 for children under 12.

Tickets may be ordered online at

COMMUNITY PICNIC — The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey will sponsor a community-wide picnic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, September 11th, in West-chester Park.

The picnic, billed as the “Stars of the Neighborhood Picnic,” will include a free barbecue lunch, music, entertainment, games for children and a bake-off.

The Neighborhood Council also intends to honor a variety of local “stars” nominated by local residents.

“These are the people who don’t have all the awards hanging on their walls,” said Neighborhood Council president Gwen Vuchsas.

“We want to recognize the everyday stars of our neighborhood,” she said, pointing to neighbors who help other residents take trash cans out to the street and then retrieve the cans.

“We hope people all over Westchester, Playa del Rey and Playa Vista will recognize these real stars, who don’t get recognized in other ways.”

The purpose of the awards, the council says, is to identify and honor those unsung heroes of our community who quietly, persistently and without fanfare voluntarily perform good deeds that serve the needs of their neighbors and the community.

Those wishing to nominate a “Star of the Neighborhood” should e-mail the nominee’s name, address and phone number and indicate why the person should be honored to


Nominations can also be mailed to Stars of the Neighborhood, 5602 Manchester Ave., Westchester 90045.

Nominees must live or work in Westchester, Playa del Rey or Playa Vista. Nominators should include information on how they can be reached as well.

Nominations must be received by Friday, August 27th. Nominees selected by a Neighborhood Council committee will be honored during the September 11th picnic.

OUR NEW ARRIVAL — I am very happy to report that God has blessed our family with another beautiful baby girl.

Our new bundle of joy arrived at 4:07 a.m. Sunday, August 8th.

Her name is Sydney — Mom and Dad are still working on the middle name — and she weighed in at six pounds, 11 ounces. She measured 19.75 inches and is doing great.

Mom, Nicole, is tired and in some pain, but we hope to bring both Mom and baby home Tuesday.

Congratulations to Sydney’s big sister, Kaitlyn, who will now have a “real dolly” to play with, take care of and teach.

Congratulations also to Sydney’s grandparents, Gerda and Richard Maleman and Joanne Xanten, and to her great-grandparents, Jean and Ed Shellhammer and Joseph Gaydos.

Sydney is also very lucky to have wonderful aunts and uncles, Michelle and Rich Fulcher and Wendy and Melanie Xanten.

We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful group of family and friends, and we thank all of you for your support and good wishes.

We look forward to having you see Sydney soon.