It was pouring rain in the early morning of Feb. 6 when the Pomona-Pitzer swimming and diving team departed for Occidental College.
The rain seemed to damper everyone’s mood, or maybe it simply reflected the sentiments felt by the team’s Seniors, who would be bidding farewell to the swim meets they have come to know and love. Or maybe everyone would rather have been snoozing at 10 AM on a Saturday morning.
Either way, a group of freezing, drenched, and drowsy Sagehens wrapped in parkas filed into the abnormally small Occidental pool, mumbling about the unpredictable SoCal weather, the lack of warm-up space, and the length of their races.
The Sagehens then waited, perhaps not so patiently, as the Tigers proceeded through their Senior recognition ceremony, remembering their own only a week before during the last meet at Haldeman pool for the season that ended in a decisive victory against the University of La Verne.
Despite the day’s conditions, the men’s team ended the season with a satisfying boost in their 152-75 triumph over the Tigers, taking first in eight out of 11 swimming events and both diving events, and recording 14 seasonal bests in individual swims.
Head Coach Bruce Brown was definitely pleased with the performance at Oxy on Saturday.
“We worked hard throughout the week, and that carried over into the meet,” he explained. “The times were much better than they’ve been.”
The Hens certainly showed no signs of weariness from the previous week, or by the unfavorable environmental conditions during the meet. The early-morning grogginess was soon dispelled as the Sagehens opened with a 1-2 finish in the 400 Medley Relay. Next, Pomona-Pitzer swept the 200 Freestyle, with David Lee PO ‘10 touching first, followed by Vincent Giannotti PI ‘12 and Tom Cleveland PO ‘12.
One highlight of the race was Lee’s swim in the un-scored exhibition 100 Freestyle heat, in which he narrowly took second to fellow Sagehen Jaron Moler PO ‘12. Only Lee swam it butterfly. The extra competition served him well, giving him a season best of 55.13. For you confused non-swimmers out there: it is okay to swim butterfly instead of freestyle—you will not be disqualified. You can swim anything instead of freestyle as long as you keep the stroke consistent throughout the race. Because freestyle is the fastest stroke, you really only see someone swimming a different stroke in an un-scored exhibition heat. There are stories of people swimming entire 500s (that’s 20 laps) butterfly, though why anyone would consider doing that is unclear.
Andrew Kinimaka PO ‘11, coming in at 2:06.70, touched less than a second after Tommy DePaoli PO ‘13’s 2:06.01 in their 1-2 finish in the 200 IM, both far exceeding their previous seasonal best times.
Freshman J.P. Cumming PO finished first with room to warm down (or, in the words of head coach Bruce Brown, “piddle around”) after both the 1650 and 500 Freestyle swims. Chris Wright PO ‘12, the lone Sagehen amidst a sea of Tigers, handily claimed the 200 Butterfly and walked away unscathed with a seasonal best time of 2:01.48.
The male Hens cleaned up solidly with a win in the 400 Freestyle relay, which consisted of Lee, Matt Ward PZ ‘12, Kinimaka, and anchored by Max Scholten PO ‘12, just as the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds.
The return to Claremont proved to be significantly livelier than the departure, as the group of proud and victorious Sagehens looks forward with anticipation to the next two weeks of physical and mental relaxation known fondly as “tapering” before the big SCIACs Conference Championships.
“It was exciting to see people swim well,” commented Assistant Coach Michael Wong, “even before the beginning of the taper phase.”
Coach Brown expects the hard work put in by the Hens since practices began back in September will pay off in two weeks.
“Our performance at Oxy bodes well for conference,” he said confidently.
This year, like the last, SCIACs will take place at the Belmont Plaza, a giant indoor swimming and diving facility in Long Beach.
The men’s team finishes the regular season ranked 3rd behind powerhouses CMS and University of Redlands in SCIACs. Preliminary seeding sheets and individual event rankings in SCIACs will likely be posted next week.