Swim and Dive: Both teams look to better last season’s success

Brenna Thompson, Copy Editor

Santa Rosa Junior College’s men’s and women’s swimming teams are optimistic about the upcoming season and ready to face the new year with fresh faces and returning stars.

Last season, the men’s team finished an impressive fourth at the Big 8 Conference and was ranked 11th in California.

The women were even more dominant, finishing second at the Big 8 and missing the podium at state, finishing fourth.

“We want to be in the hunt for Big 8 Conference titles and get back up in the top five at state finals,” said head coach Jill McCormick.

Several members of last year’s award-winning teams have returned, and all eyes will be on them as they help SRJC contend for titles.

“The swim team is a very close-knit community, sort of like a family,” said returning swimmer Clayton Chesnut. “It is very hard work, but it pays off.”

SRJC record holder and 2013 All American Andrew Hayes, with SRJC’s fastest 200m-backstroke time, is back for spring 2014. He joins returning distance swimmer Clark Hale.

“Both of these guys were two of the state’s top swimmers last season,” McCormick said.

Former All-American John Bing, a familiar face to the men’s team, is also back after helping the 2012 team capture the state championship title.

Another 2012 swimmer and All-American, Morgan Baldwin, will take to the pool again this year in the hopes of repeating the team’s former success.

Men’s team newcomers to watch out for this season include Stephen Mackanic of Livermore and Ben Crabb of Santa Rosa.

Three 2013 All-Americans, Erin Sulliuvan, Allison Straus and Mindi Perez, will be returning to the women’s team this year.

McCormick is confident that both teams can be successful this year and has done plenty of offseason training to ensure the members’ performance.

“We have added a specialized mobility program to our training this season as well,” McCormick said.

“We have had great success in the past with our sophomores continuing to improve from their freshman seasons and we have a strong crop of freshmen as well who are already showing signs of improvement,” McCormick said.

Four meets that McCormick looks forward to include the Tri-Meet vs American River and Orange Coast College  Feb. 22, the statewide Cuesta Invitational March 7-8 and the Big 8 and State Finals that meets at the season’s end.