The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference held its first swim and dive championship meet since 2019 last weekend at Southwestern College. It was a triumphant return to the pool for many swimmers who had their 2020 season cut short by the Coronavirus shutdown.
In all, two full seasons were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was exciting to get back into the pool, back into swimming,” Grossmont College men’s head coach Anhton Tran said. “But it’s been rough coming back from a long time off.
“We set goals for this year and the swimmers are right on those. We’ve had big drops throughout the season.”
“It was good to see a lot of hard work pay off,” Southwestern College head coach Matt Usataszewski said. “We had a water polo season in the fall but no full swim season since 2019. It was tough, but we’re definitely getting back to where we were after missing two full seasons.”
Five teams participated in last weekend’s PCAC championship meet: Southwestern College, Grossmont College, San Diego Mesa College, Palomar College and Crafton Hills College.
Grossmont College captured the men’s team title with 757 points while San Diego Mesa won the women’s title with 759 points.
Palomar College finished runner-up in the men’s field with 675 points while Grossmont placed second in the women’s field with 548 points.
Despite lower numbers, it was a competitive meet thanks to the rules that govern community college swimming. At the community college level, swimmers can compete in as many as seven events over the course of a championship meet — three individual events and four relays.
Teams were thus able to stretch their talent across the board to pile up points.
Palomar College’s Jacob Rochman (Mission Hills) captured the PCAC Men’s Swimmer of the Year award after winning individual titles in the 400-yard individual medley (4:11.52), 200 backstroke (1:54.85) and 200 butterfly (1:55.80).
San Diego Mesa’s Sydney Fortune (Patrick Henry) earned honors as the PCAC Women’s Swimmer of the Year after winning individual titles in the 500 freestyle (5:30.15), 100 breaststroke (1:07.10) and 200 breaststroke (2:26.81). The latter time was a meet record.
Grossmont’s Tran received the PCAC Men’s Coach of the Year award while Mesa’s Paul Mazzarelle received the PCAC Women’s Coach of the Year award.
Southwestern College finished third in the men’s field with 417 points while San Diego Mesa was fourth with 311 points and Crafton Hills was fifth with 190 points.
Rounding out the women’s field were Palomar College in third place with 445 points, Southwestern College in fourth place with 224 points and Crafton Hills in fifth place with 32 points.
Southwestern College’s swim program demanded some notice this year with sophomore Bryce Heber winning two events and setting three school records and several other swimmers winning top five medals in their respective events.
Heber, a 2019 graduate of Mar Vista High School, summed up the three school records as “pretty good for a water polo player.”
“I feel really accomplished,” he said. “I feel proud of myself. I know my coaches are proud of me. It feels really good to get my name in the school record book.”
“Bryce was an absolute pleasure to coach,” SWC’s Ustaszewski said. “He’s a great student, a great water polo player and obviously a great swimmer. He represented our school with pride.”
Of the three school records, Heber said he was most proud of the one in the 100 freestyle in which he first broke the school record in the morning prelims and came back in the afternoon to set a new school record in the finals.
“I feel like the 100 is the true water polo race,” the 2019 Mar Vista High School grad said. “It’s good to know I’m the fastest in San Diego County in community college.”
Heber’s main competition last weekend came from Palomar College’s Timothy Godin, a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School. Godin finished the meet with two gold medals and one silver medal.
The ex-Sundevil won the 500 freestyle by a 10-second margin while Heber won the 50 freestyle by a 0.40 second margin in their opening races. They first paired up in the 200 freestyle where Godin won the initial dual in 1:43.02 after Heber (1:44.00) had taken the lead briefly heading into the last lap.
The rematch in the 100 freestyle was key as Godin was aiming for his third individual gold medal. Heber had set a new school record in the morning prelims and bettered that in the finals with a time of 46.42 to out-touch Godin by a scant 0.34 second.
Heber said he couldn’t keep track of the competition during the 100 freestyle race. “I had horse-blinders on,” the SWC swimmer said. “It was a great feeling to look at the scoreboard at the end and see that I was in first place.”
Heber could take his act to a larger stage when bids are handed out for the state championship meet May 5-7 at East Los Angeles College.
The top five place-finishers in each race at the PCAC finals received medals.
Osthimer, a Mar Vista alum, finished second in the men’s 100 backstroke (1:01.14), third in the 200 backstroke (2:12.98) and sixth in the 500 freestyle (5:38.75).
Osthimer entered the 100 backstroke as the top seed from the prelims while Botte was seeded second. But both Jaguars were out-stroked by Grossmont’s Carlos Lazarr (West Hills), who won in 57.83 — four seconds ahead of Osthimer and six seconds ahead of Botte (third, 1:03.61).
“I just gave it my all,” Lazarr said. “Coach said to do the 100 back because we needed another person in the event, and I said okay. My specialty is the butterfly but, after winning this, I don’t know now.”
Osthimer set PR marks in both backstroke events. “I’m definitely happy with my backstroke times,” he said. “I could have gone faster in the 500. I think I might have won the 100 backstroke but I hit the lane line twice.”
Botte, a 2021 Valhalla grad, placed fifth in the 200 IM (2:14.44), third in the 100 backstroke and 14th in the 100 freestyle (53.78) besides competing in four relay events.
“Swimming was always more of a background sport to water polo for me, however, this year I enjoyed swimming a lot more than I ever have,” he said. “Watching my times drop as much as they did was very exciting for me and kept me going. I have always pretty much done the 200 IM, so getting a medal in that was very cool for me.
“Swimming at community college was definitely tougher than high school, but it came with its perks. The practices are harder, meets contain harder events, and the meets happen a lot quicker. However, the very nice facilities and luxuries available to us like trainers made me feel a lot more involved and pushed me to be my best.”
Hastings placed second in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.08) and ninth (consolation heat winner) in the 100 freestyle (50.41).
On the women’s side, the quartet of Lauryn Rockwell (Mar Vista), Tess Johnson (Eastlake), Emily Torriz (Eastlake) and Sofia Bravo (Mount Miguel) totaled 224 points over the three days of competition.
Of note, Rockwell was fourth in the 200 freestyle (2:18.67) and seventh in the 100 freestyle (1:02.96).“I thought Southwestern did an admirable job,” Ustaszewski said. “We only had three swimmers back from the 2020 season that was cut short. We had a lot of young swimmers this year proving themselves. Everyone dropped times from top to bottom.”
Age is only a frame of mind, it seems.
Cottrell, 64, was the oldest swimmer to compete at the finals and was loudly cheered on by his SWC teammates.
The state championship meet is May 5-7 at East Los Angeles College.
While Palomar College recorded first-place finishes in 11 of the 20 men’s events to Grossmont’s six event championships, the Griffins prevailed by numbers.
“A lot of depth was the difference,” Tran said. “We had multiple swimmers in the championship finals.”
Grossmont captured all three freestyle relays with the lineup of Emilio Camarillo (Eastlake), Emiliano Castro (Bonita Vista), Garrett Durado (Poway) and Ben Berk (Grossmont). The quartet won the meet opening 200 freestyle relay in 1:26.42, posted the fastest time in the 800 freestyle relay in 7:16.24 and won the meet-concluding 400 freestyle relay in 3:09.71.
Individual event champions for the Griffins included Camarillo in the 200 individual medley (1:59.10), Lazarr in the 100 backstroke and Jacob Nelson (Ramona) in the three-meter diving competition (203 points).
Palomar won two relay events and won nine individual events. The foursome of Rochman, Kevin Brunia, Timothy Godin and Jeremy Lovegren timed 3:32.79 to win the 400 medley relay and 1:36.96 to win the 200 medley relay.
Besides Rochman’s three individual first-place medals, the Comets also received gold medals from Godin (4:40.61 in the 500 freestyle and 1:43:02 in the 200 freestyle), Brunia (100 butterfly in 51.00 and 100 breaststroke in 57.28, Calvin Anderson (200 breaststroke in 2:27.35) and Donovan Taylor (one-meter diving with 210.20 points).
Palomar recorded a runner-up finish in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:11.96 — 2.25 seconds behind Grossmont.
“It was great finish,” Tran said. “We won all the freestyle relays and they won all the medley relays. They were catching up to us in points, so we knew it could come down to the final race.”
Besides the Griffins’ aforementioned first-place touches, Durado finished second in the 500 freestyle (4:50.35), Ryan Beery (Classical Academy) placed second in the 200 IM (2:02.17), Berk finished second in the 50 freestyle (21.49) and 200 butterfly (1:59.48), Camarillo finished second in the 100 butterfly (51.84) and Lazarr finished second in the 200 backstroke (2:10.67).
Berk also finished third in the 200 freestyle (1:45.45) and 100 freestyle (46.82). Anthony Treltas (Valhalla) placed third in the 200 breaststroke (2:29.63). Joey Asaro (Grossmont) finished third in the 1650 freestyle (19:44.10) while Nelson finished third in the one-meter dive competition (172.35 points).
The 1650 freestyle race is the marathon event in the conference finals consisting of 66 laps.
The Lady Griffins managed to squeeze in two event victories in a meet otherwise dominated by the Lady Olympians with 14 first-place finishes, including diving.
Grossmont won the 800 freestyle relay in 8:46.76 as Maegan Calcutt (West Hills), Madison Dickman (Granite Hills), Annika Prado (Valhalla) and Moana Hasenstab (Point Loma) each swam legs. Dickman came back to post the top time in the 200 backstroke in 2:23.95.
Dickman finished with a chest full of medals. She also placed third in the 400 freestyle relay (4:01.66), fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:09.58) and fifth in the 500 freestyle (5:55.97).
The times in the 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke were college bests.
A 2021 graduate of Granite Hills, Dickman placed runner-up at the Grossmont Hills League finals in the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke and was part of two league championships.
“Swimming at the community college level is very difficult,” she said. “Everyone puts up a great race. I was very fortunate I was able to win two of them. My goals entering my freshmen year were to make the state meet in the 200 backstroke and win the PCAC in the 200 backstroke and get as far as I could in all my faces for these championships.”
The Lady Griffins tallied four second-place event finishes: Hasenstab in the 50 freestyle (27.03), Prado in the 400 IM (5:38.77) and Calcutt in the 200 freestyle (2:06.65) and 200 butterfly (2:33.45).
Third-place finishers included Ashley Leland in the 100 butterfly (1:15.19), Hasenstab in the 200 freestyle (2:13.83), Brianna Gilliam in the 100 backstroke (1:09.36) and Prado in the 200 butterfly (2:52.36).
East County divers were well represented at this year’s PCAC championship meet.
Steele Canyon’s Ty Hunt, representing San Diego Mesa, finished second in the men’s one-meter finals with 203.30 points while El Capitan’s Filip Dominique (134.50 points, also for San Diego Mesa) finished fourth in the field ahead of Treltas (fifth with 129.90 points for Grossmont).
Hunt (168.25) was third and Dominique (133.50) was fourth on the three-meter board.
“People underestimate the competition at the JC level,” Dominique said.
“The training is a lot different,” Dominique said. “The competition is a lot different. People underestimate the competition at the JC level.”
The top eight divers from the Southern California region advance to the state meet.
Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Swim & Dive Championships
April 21-23 at Southwestern College
Jacob Rochman (Palomar)
Men’s Swimmer of the Year
MEN’S EVENT WINNERS
200 freestyle relay: Grossmont (Emilio Camarillo, Garrett Durado, Ben Berk, Emiliano Castro) 1:26.42
500 freestyle: Timothy Godin (Palomar) 4:40.61
200 individual medley: Emilio Camarillo (Grossmont) 1:59.10
50 freestyle: Bryce Heber (Southwestern) 21.09
400 medley relay: Palomar (Jacob Rochman, Kevin Brunia, Timothy Godin, Jeremy Lovegren) 3:32.79
200 medley relay: Palomar (Jacob Rochman, Kevin Brunia, Timothy Godin, Jeremy Lovegren) 1:36.96
400 individual medley: Jacob Rochman (Palomar) 4:11.52
100 butterfly: Kevin Brunia (Palomar) 51.00
200 freestyle: Timothy Godin (Palomar) 1:43.02
100 breaststroke: Kevin Brunia (Palomar) 57.28
100 backstroke: Carlos Lazarr (Grossmont) 57.83
800 freestyle relay: Grossmont (Emilio Camarillo, Emiliano Castro, Garrett Durado, Ben Berk) 7:16.24
1650 freestyle: Gerald Griffin (Crafton Hills) 18:12.86
200 backstroke: Jacob Rochman (Palomar) 1:54.85
100 freestyle: Bryce Heber (Southwestern) 46.42
200 breaststroke: Calvin Anderson (Palomar) 2:27.35
200 butterfly: Jacob Rochman (Palomar) 1:55.80
400 freestyle relay: Grossmont (Emilio Camarillo, Emiliano Castro), Garrett Durado, Ben Berk) 3:09.71
Team scores: 1. Grossmont 757; 2. Palomar 675; 3. Southwestern 417, 4. San Diego Mesa 311; 5. Crafton Hills 190
Sydney Fortune (San Diego Mesa)
Women’s Swimmer of the Year
WOMEN’S EVENT WINNERS
200 freestyle relay: San Diego Mesa (Sydney Fortune, Riley Accurso, Nyoka Martinezcuello, Kiley Knight) 1:45.89
500 freestyle: Sydney Fortune (SD Mesa) 5:30.15
200 individual medley: Elena Pena (Palomar) 2:16.28
50 freestyle: Kiley Knight (SD Mesa) 26.20
400 medley relay: San Diego Mesa (Torrey Brindell, Sydney Fortune, Kiley Knight, Riley Accurso) 4:14.52
200 medley relay: San Diego Mesa (Riley Accurso, Sydney Fortune, Kiley Knight, Torrey Brindell) 1:56.38
100 butterfly: Kiley Knight (SD Mesa) 1:03.47
200 freestyle: Sydni Dickson (Palomar) 2:04.79
100 breaststroke: Sydney Fortune (SD Mesa) 1:07.10
100 backstroke: Sydni Dickson (Palomar) 1:05.53
800 freestyle relay: Grossmont (Maegan Calcutt, Madison Dickman, Annika Prado, Moana Hasenstab) 8:46.76
1650 freestyle: Torrey Brindell (SD Mesa) 20:29.12
200 backstroke: Madison Dickman (Grossmont) 2:23.95
100 freestyle: Elena Pena (Palomar) 55.25
200 breaststroke: Sydney Fortune (SD Mesa) 2:26.81 (meet record)
200 butterfly: Laura Estrada (SD Mesa) 2:25.24
400 freestyle relay: San Diego Mesa (Torrey Brindell, Sydney Fortune, Kiley Knight, Riley Accurso) 3:46.56
Team scores: 1. San Diego Mesa 759; 2. Grossmont 548; 3. Palomar 445; 4. Southwestern 224; 5. Crafton Hills 32
PCAC DIVE CHAMPIONSHIP
Men’s 1-Meter Finals
- Donovan Taylor (Palomar) 210.30; 2. Ty Steven Hunt (SD Mesa) 203.30; 3. Jacob Nelson (Grossmont) 172.35; 4. Filip Dominique (SD Mesa) 134.50; 5. Anthony Treltas (Grossmont) 129.90
Men’s 3-Meter Finals
- Jacob Nelson (Grossmont) 203.00; 2. Donovan Taylor (Palomar) 168.55; 3. Ty Steven Hunt (SD Mesa) 168.25; 4. Filip Dominique (SD Mesa) 133.50
Men’s Diver of the Year
Donovan Taylor (Palomar)
Women’s 1-Meter Finals
- Seraphim Nagel (SD Mesa) 140.10; 2. Hannah Spencer (SD Mesa) 100.85; 3. Emily Gornall (Palomar) 89.45 ;4. Lily Barraza (SD Mesa) 60.75; 5. Sydney Esquivel (Grossmont) 45.00
Women’s 3-Meter Finals
- Seraphim Nagel (SD Mesa) 154.30 ;2. Emily Gornall (Palomar) 144.85; 3. Hannah Spencer (SD Mesa) 127.10
Women’s Diver of the Year
Seraphim Nagel (SD Mesa)