P-P Takes to the Pool for First Meet of the Season

As the sun is rising, you will find them lifting weights in Rains Center. After an hour of pumping iron, they burn another grueling half hour in the pool. It is all worth it for the results—but also for the team breakfast afterward and the friendships forged through all of their training. 

Most college students are asleep at 6:30 a.m., but not the Pomona-Pitzer swimmers. 

The men’s and women’s swim and dive teams kicked off their seasons with strong performances in their first two meets at home Nov. 1 and at University of Redlands Nov. 8.

The Hens hosted the Pomona-Pitzer Relays on Saturday, Nov. 1, at Haldemann Pool, starting off strong by raising the pool's record times. The 400 freestyle relay team of Andrew Savage PZ ’15, Mark Hallman PO ’18, Danny Villars PO ’17 and Hugh Berryman PO ’15 finished first in the event with a time of 3:11.95, setting a new low time for Haldemann. 

Prior to the meet, both the men and women's teams had been training for seven weeks.

“We were kind of broken down, a bit tired, but we got up and swam pretty well, which is awesome because usually we don’t have really great times until later on in the season,” Berryman said.

The women had a solid showing, with Johanna Rayl PO ’16, Michelle Audebert PO ’18, Cayla Nishizaki PZ ’17 and Vicky Gyorrfy PO ’15 of the 400 freestyle relay team nearly winning the event, bested only by Division II California Baptist University, who swam a 3:38.48 to beat P-P's time of 3:39.16.

The Redlands Pentathlon the following week saw more fast races for both teams. The Redlands Pentathlon consisted of five 100-yard races (freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and the individual medley) and combined the five times into one aggregate time.

Villars finished third overall as one of four Sagehens in the top 10. At 47.99 seconds, Villars recorded the fastest time in the 100-yard freestyle among 80 swimmers who participated in all five events. Daniel To PO '17 had the fastest time in the 100-yard backstroke (52.44), finishing eighth overall.

For the women, Maki Tohmon PO ’17 (5:12.55) finished third, Victoria Vanderpoel PO ’18 (5:16.60) fourth and Nishizaki (5:18.85) fifth overall. Alex Seidel PO ’18 (9th) and Natalie Sidor PO ’18 (12th) had a solid inaugural meet, while Gailyn Portelance PO '15 (11th) earned the Hens half of the top 12 spots.

After the meet, both teams drove to the Halona cabin in Idyllwild, Calif., where they spent two days relaxing, playing games and bonding.

Building camaraderie with these kinds of experiences helps to create a more positive atmosphere for the team both in and out of the pool, and it was especially important for integrating first-years. 

“I’ve been on three different teams in my life, and the dynamic on this one stands out as one where everybody genuinely cares about each other and where everyone is very positive and pushes each other. It’s a lot less cutthroat,” Stefano Campana PO ’18 said. “Everybody is always cheering each other on in practice and at meets."

Sidor, a fellow first-year, agreed with Campana's sentiments. 

“Everybody calls the swim team a cult because of how close we are. I haven’t met one person on the team who isn’t totally nice,” Sidor said.

This year, a total of 24 first-years joined the P-P Swimming and Diving teams—far more than in previous years.

“Each year you lose quirky, amazing seniors, but you get new freshman who bring this totally different vibe that is super unique and that we embrace,” Berryman said. “I love the team for what they are."

Though swim and dive might seem more individual-focused in the structure of its events, Berryman also pointed out the significance of having a strong team in the sport.  

“Think about swimming back and forth for hours—it can get dreary. It’s really the team camaraderie that makes you swim fast and keeps you going and prevents you from being bored out of your mind,” Berryman said. “I don’t think I would be swimming if the team weren’t super close. It’s awesome that I can swim pretty fast, but it’s more for the group.”

The teams realizes that head coach Jean-Paul Gowdy has high expectations for this season, but they are up for the challenge.

“He’s training us hard, and we’ll perform,” Berryman said. “We swim for 21 hours per week for 16 weeks, for three minutes of SCIAC."

Already, the two P-P teams are especially excited for their meets against their biggest rival, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, with whom they usually compete very closely, and whom they have a good chance of beating this year, according to Berryman.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will travel to California Baptist University this Saturday, Nov. 15, for their first dual meet of the season.