Written by: Zayda Cavazos / Staff Writer (The Southwestern Sun)
It is not always about winning, but the improvements that happen throughout the season.
As a famous Hollywood fish once said, “Just keep swimming.”
The Jaguars swim and dive team had a fulfilling season, although it did not make it to the state championships. Coach Matt Ustaszewski said the swimmers improved gradually throughout the season.
“They have been doing it while swimming tired,” he said. “Our goal is to build them up and then towards the end of the year have them swim rested. That usually makes a big difference in times.”
Sophomore Mariela Rodriguez broke Southwestern College’s 100-yard breaststroke record against Grossmont College with a time of 1:16.62.
“It was a great accomplishment for me,” she said. “I worked harder and trained harder at practice. I listened to my coach and played water polo, so I think that really helped.”
Many of the swimmers this season were new to the sport. With the help of the coaches and returning athletes, they were able to improve their times at the PCAC Championship.
Team captains Rodriguez and Stuart Sokil were the only returning swimmers this season.
Sokil said he felt more prepared going into competition.
“Coach pushed us a lot this year compared to last year,” he said. “I think it’s the fact that we had more inexperienced swimmers this year than last year.”
Ustaszewski said Sokil’s experience helped the team mature.
“He is a good leader by example,” he said. “One of the things that makes him a leader is that he will do every set you ask and work hard on them. (Teammates) see him working hard and they work hard.”
Rodriguez said the inexperienced team was willing to learn.
“They would tell me I was their inspiration for swimming long distance,” she said. “It was nice helping them out as best as I could.”
Commitment was this year’s priority. A central goal was to improve as swimmers and assistant coach Jennifer Harper said he was proud of her team’s progress.
“It’s a great opportunity to see those improvements in their times,” she said. “I’m really happy with our swimmers and that they have been so courageous in doing types of swims that maybe they didn’t feel comfortable with.”