Lowell swimming crushes competition at Sava Pool

Swimming is back in season, and Lowell swimmers have yet to reach to their ceiling, but they’re already crushing their competition. “We didn’t come into the meet with a lot of expectations as the season has just started, but surprisingly we had a lot of great swims with a lot of new swimmers,” Coach R’nel Ocampo said. Even though the Cardinals aren’t at the top of their game yet, they didn’t have to worry too much about competition. Many of them, especially the varsity girls, faced little competition from the Balboa Buccaneers and the Lincoln Mustangs.

Andrea Tran
Junior varsity swimmer Maddie Chew swims the breaststoke.

Since it is early in the season, swimmers are still getting back into the rhythm of things. At the first meet of the season against Balboa at Sava Pool on Feb. 22, swimmers mainly focused on getting in shape. Junior varsity swimmer Maddie Chew has been swimming a lot to work on her fitness. “This entire season is about building endurance, so practice will increase my stamina,” she said.

Despite the fact that not everyone swam perfectly, many of them still performed very well at the meet. Notable performances included junior varsity swimmer Crystal Murphy, who won the 100m backstroke in 1:00.25, freshman varsity swimmer Owen Sheetz who reigned in the 100m butterfly in 1:01.05. “This was our first meet of the season and it was a bumpy one, but overall a success for the team,” Ocampo said.

Lauren Caldwell
Senior swimmer Joshua Park dives into the pool.

The second meet of the season on March 8 at Sava Pool went much better. “The meet overall was a great success and ran a lot smoother, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done towards technique and speed,” Coach Ocampo said. Some highlights include senior varsity swimmer Jae Kim’s 100m backstroke with a time of 1:05.69, and junior varsity swimmer Mia Blaylock’s 100m freestyle with a time of 1:00.91 which she came in first place.

Though Blaylock swam well, she still wants to improve her attention to detail in her swims. “[I think I need to] work on the little things, like turns, starts, and breathing technique. It was pretty sloppy, in general,” Blaylock said. Despite her self criticism, she still swam well. She came in second with a time of 26.91 in the 50m freestyle, swam a leg of the 200m freestyle with the Cardinals coming in first at 1:45.19 , and swam a leg of the 200m medley relay where the Cardinals came in second with a time of 2:02.57.

Sheetz also believes that working on attention to detail will help his swimming. Though Sheetz swam a 2:14.65 in the 200m independent medley (IM) and won first place, and 1:36.88 in the 200m free relay, also winning first place, he also got disqualified in two of his races for small technical mistakes. “I was happy with my speed, but I know I can do better with the rules,” he said.

Junior JV swimmer Eric Lin also wants to prepare for the next meet by working on swimming technique rather than the rules like Sheetz. Lin swam a 1:11.38 in the 100m IM and came in second, and 59.29 in the 100m freestyle, also coming in second. Though he has improved since last year, he knows that he can always get better. “I just need to work on my kicking, since its the weakest part of my stroke. My pulling is a lot better than my kicking,” he said.

Kimberly Yee
Senior varisty swimmer Angela Huang competes at the meet against Balboa on Feb. 22.

Though swimmers are trying to improve their times as much as possible, some of them faced little competition. Both Balboa and Lincoln’s girls’ teams are very small, which meant that for many events Lowell went unchallenged. According to Blaylock, Balboa had no varsity girls and Lincoln had only two. Blaylock finds this disappointing because Lowell has a great girls team, but they don’t get a lot of competition. In order to be more challenged, Lowell must outsource competition with private schools outside the Academic Athletic Association (AAA) league. “It doesn’t count for anything, but it’s just fun for team morale to get to compete against someone,” Blaylock said.

Lauren Caldwell
Swimmers get ready to dive into the pool at the start of the race.

This lack of competition can also affect the Lowell girls’ effort. Sophomore JV swimmer Sarah Tanabe swam several events, including the 200 freestyle with a time of 2:36.16, where she came in fourth, and the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 2:00.09, where the Cardinals came in first. However, she had no Lincoln competitors for either of the races. According to Tanabe, this made her less inclined to try as hard as she could, because she knew Lowell was going to win anyways. Blaylock also believes that competition changes her swimming. “We swim fast, but I think it’s always better mentally to race when you know you have to beat something or you have a real impact on how the meet goes,” she said.

Although the girls’ team had a lack of competition, everyone seemed to have fun swimming, with friends cheering on friends and contestants enjoying the swimming experience. The JV girls team won 8 races out of 10, with only 5 other JV girls on Lincoln’s team, and the varsity girls team won all 10 out of 10 races, but with only 2 Lincoln opponents. The JV boys team won 3 out of 10 races, while the varsity boys team won 6 out of 10 races. All in all, this was a great performance for their second meet.

The Cardinals’ next meet will be against the Galileo Lions at the Hamilton Recreation Center on March 22 at 4:00 p.m.