With the Big 8 Conference meet and state championships right around the corner, City College swimmers have their sights set on making a big splash over the next few weeks.
City swimming coach Steve Hanson is working on making sure his swimmers are peaking at the right time. He knows that if City can get some swimmers into the state meet, anything can happen.
“As long as you get in, it’s all about how you swim that day,” says Hanson.
Many of Hanson’s swimmers have shown consistent improvements in their respective events throughout the season, saving their best times for as late into the season as possible.
Distance specialist Matt Lemire has placed in the Top 3 in each 500-yard freestyle that he has raced. He also took second overall in the 1650 free at the Hawk Invite at Las Positas College March 24.
Sophomore sprinter Julia Ng has been the top point-scorer for the women’s team. Of the 17 races Ng has swam this season, she has placed outside the Top 10 only once. She has also spent a lot of time in Hoos Pool as a member of the Panther water polo team.
“I don’t do as well on land,” joked Ng, who attributed her consistency to “just putting in the work, coming to practice every day and making sure I do my best when I come to practice.”
At the Hawk Invite, Ng and Lemire each took home the award of Discipline Champion, which is based on the highest combined placings for two events in each respective discipline. Lemire took second in both the 500 (4 minutes, 53.03 seconds) and the 1650 (16:56.95). Ng took third place in both the 50 and 100 sprint freestyles with times of 25.74 and 55.45, respectively.
“Julia and Matt are probably our best athletes and probably our best possibilities of taking our team to state,” said Hanson.
Ng took third place with a personal-best 25.09 in the women’s 50 free shootout at the American River Sprints April 6, which were actually held at City College due to inclement weather for ARC’s outdoor pool.
However, Hanson said, the Panthers are not just a two-person show. City has a host of other swimmers who continue to drop their times.
Matt Frediani had his best performance at the Hawk Invite, scoring 28 points over four events. He took seventh place in the 200 breaststroke while setting season-best times in the 400 Individual Medley, 500 free and the 100 breast.
Ivan Madrigal posted season-bests in all five events in which he competed April 6 at the ARC Sprints.
“(Ivan) is my heart guy,” said Hanson. “Not a ton of experience. He just works hard. We have a lot of hard workers, and Ivan falls into that category. He’s going to continue to drop a lot of time.”
Madrigal has competed in nine different events throughout the season.
“My mindset is I need to try my best,” he said. “I try not to look at others. I just try to improve myself.”
Alex Royal has shaved time off each of the five successive 100 backstroke events in which he’s raced this season, and Jesus Ramirez’s latest showings in the 50 free and 100 back were the fastest of his season so far.
For the women, Grace Tan has placed sixth or better in three of her five races in the 100 back. She has cracked the Top 10 in the 200 I.M. three times and still plans to drop time before the conference meet.
“You know it’s going to hurt, but you just suck it up and keep going,” said Tan, giving an idea of the mindset of hard swimming against high-caliber competition. “The sooner you get to the wall, the sooner you can rest.”
Brianna Magobet has two Top 3 finishes in the 50 butterfly. Tamara Tsvirinko took sixth overall in the 50 back March 9 at the Cuesta College Invitational. Hannah Widman set a season-best mark at the ARC Sprints in the 100 breast by nearly five full seconds from her original time.
Lexi Tomlinson, a former outside hitter for the City volleyball team, is perhaps the women’s team’s most versatile swimmer. She has competed in eight different events. Her best finishes came at the Feb. 23 Sac City Invite, where she placed ninth in the 200 I.M. and 11th in the 100 back.
“We’ve got a dedicated group,” said Hanson. “We might sneak a couple more people into the state meet.”
Hanson believes the Panther relay teams have an outside shot at cracking the Top 12 required to make the state meet. He said it would be the first time in his tenure as City’s swim coach that a relay team reached a state finals.
With a time of 3:56.78 on March 24, the women’s freestyle relay team of Ng, Tan, Magobet and Andrea Infante cut nearly 20 seconds from its original 400 time from a month earlier.
“With that kind of quality, we’re really close to getting some relays in,” said Hanson.
The Big 8 Conference meet is set for April 19–21, and the state championships are May 3–5.
For more info on SCC swimming, visit www.sccpanthers.losrios.edu/sports/swimdive/.