Written by Leisha Clendenen
One of the difficult tasks of being a high school Spring athlete is returning from Spring vacation with just a few weeks to go in the season. Despite a solid week of practices during the off-time, the swim team was faced with more adversity upon its return with the pool heater breaking down, forcing swimmers to find their different means of getting water time and staying in shape.
With two meets on the schedule, this would prove to be a hectic week with the swimmers rising to the occasion and for many, swimming top times in the process.
On Thursday, the team faced off against Roosevelt High School, which aside from the Varsity girls squad, saw on three other levels on the losing end of the dual meet. The boys remained within striking distance- if not having the lead- throughout much of the meet, but with a Roosevelt sweep in the 100 breaststroke, the Mustangs inched ahead and created an insurmountable lead that could not be overtaken despite a win in the final 400 freestyle relay. The girls team earned a comfortable 80 point victory with ladies swimming in some off events and still securing top finishes. For the Wolves, the day was marked with a time to see the work that still needs to be put in and redeemed back before championship season comes in two weeks.
The week was capped with a fantastic trip to the desert, swimming in the annual Palm Springs Invitational and the warm temperatures certainly proved helpful to the Wolves from Riverside with top times for most swimmers and more confidence heading into League Finals and the CIF championships. Without a full squad due to Easter weekend schedules and commitments, the Lady Wolves finished third among top CIF and State competitors Redlands East Valley and Chaparral.
Newcomer Isabelle Szeto inched her way closer to the League Championship lineup, moving into some of the top times among King swimmers in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke. Likewise, Kristin Thoroddsen came away as one of the top surprises of the meet, earning her way into a league finals lineup with top performing times in the backstroke and freestyle. Hannah Falls-Hand proved her strength in water polo helped her endurance in the challenging 200 individual medley and dropping just over 15 seconds in the 500 freestyle. More best times were had by lady Wolves, Kylee Alinder, Alicia Colwell, Katelyn Peterson, Kristina Peterson, Kameryn Pfeifer, Zana Taylor and Molly Thornton. Junior Lauren Vitort showed amazing promise for April swims, coming close to best times in both her school record holding 200 and 500 freestyles and automatic state qualifying times.
For the boys, the Wolves finished 5th out of 15 teams with Zac Thelwell, Ethan Kolb, Vince Madarang and Samuel Xu contributing as the top point scorers for the squad. Sophomores Matthew Hamburger, Jacob Goldsberry, Jason Howard, Matt Howard and Jaden Karger continued to impress and reveal how their consistency and dedication have resulted in top swims. Freshman Bryan Baez, continues to drop times and improved close to 20 seconds in the 500 freestyle
Although the week began with the stress of the unknown for the weeks ahead, the team rallied and adapted with the same positivity that has driven them through much of the season. Matt Hamburger gave the coaches the best cap to the week’s end by saying how glad he was that he came to the “optional” invitational, “I am so glad I came. I can’t believe how I dropped my times, but I also had so much fun.”
The expectations that the consistent opportunity to build camaraderie while enforcing the ability to handle setbacks will keep encouraging the swimmers to make improvements throughout the rest of the season. Further proving how the love of the competition as well as their teammates will propel our student athletes to do great things and make lasting memories of their high school careers.