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. 

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

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.

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

“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

“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

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.

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