Mark Spitz entered his name in Olympic history by winning seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Summer Games. Michael Phelps is the only other American swimmer to surpass that feat by winning eight Olympic medals at the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.
Grossmont College freshman Austin Dickman did his best impersonation of the two superstar swimmers by winning five gold medals to help the Griffins win the men’s team championship at last weekend’s Pacific Coast Athletic Conference finals at Southwestern College.
Dickman, a 2018 graduate of Granite Hills High School, won three individual gold medals and two gold medals as part of relay teams to earn the Male Co-Swimmer of the Year award.
“I honestly didn’t expect anything like this to become a reality,” Dickman said somewhat modestly. “It’s a dream to receive this award as a freshman.”
The PCAC championship meet took place April 18-20.
Grossmont College won the men’s team title with 908 points to out-pace runner-up Mesa (852 points) and third place Palomar (551 points). Southwestern finished fourth with 348 points while Crafton Hills finished fifth with 125 points.
The meet encompassed three days to duplicate the format at the state championship meet. The top five individuals in each event received medals.
“It was a very successful weekend for us,” explained Grossmont College men’s coach Anhton Tran, who earned recognition as the PCAC Men’s Coach of the Year. “I knew what all the guys were capable of and they exceeded my expectations.”
The Griffins expect to qualify several swimmers for the upcoming state finals.
Dickman won his first gold medal on the first day of competition as Grossmont captured the men’s 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:35.02 to best runner-up Palomar (3:39.58) by nearly five seconds.
Dickman swam the opening backstroke leg to set up teammates Tristan Correia (breaststroke), Wes Papike (butterfly) and Garrett Hail (freestyle) to secure the victory.
Dickman picked up three gold medals on the second day of competition. He timed 51.10 to win the men’s 100 butterfly event and 53.53 to win the men’s 100 backstroke event while also swimming a leg on the Griffins’ victorious 200 medley relay team.
Dickman had qualified for the San Diego Section championship meet three times while swimming for Granite Hills, placing second his senior year. He broke his own school record each year.
The former Eagle standout shaved nearly three seconds off his prelim time and nearly five seconds off his seed time in winning the 100 butterfly at this year’s PCAC finals. His final time set a personal best, eclipsing the 51.54 he swam at last year’s CIF championship meet.
“Phenomenal,” the obviously proud swimmer noted.
Grossmont won the 200 medley relay in 1:37.48 to once again finish ahead of Mesa (1:38.12). Dickman swam the backstroke leg, followed by Correia (breaststroke), Papike (butterfly) and Isaiah Webster (freestyle).
Dickman captured his fifth gold medal on the final day of competition by winning the men’s 200 backstroke in 1:58.81 — nearly four seconds faster than his prelim time set earlier in the morning and nearly eight seconds faster than his seed time.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Dickman said in describing his whirlwind performance. “I was hoping to get at least one medal but to get five, it’s crazy. My parents and my coaches, including my coaches at Heartland Swim Association, have helped me so much the past few years.”
Dickman scored a total of 60 points for his team. However, he had plenty of help from teammates in leading the Griffins, the regular season dual meet champions, to take a collective dip in the pool as conference meet champions.
Correia, another talented freshman, finished the PCAC finals with five medals, including four gold medals.
He captured first-place individual finishes in the 400 individual medley (4:23.88) and 200 breaststroke (2:15.20) while finishing fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.57).
The former Grossmont High swimmer was part of the Griffins’ championship 200 and 400 medley relay teams along with Dickman and Papike.
“It’s kind of like the same as high school but at the same time it’s not the same,” Correia said. “It’s a lot more competitive in meets with everyone trying to get to state.”
Correia, who scored 55 points in the meet, has already set new goals for his swimming career. He wants to slip under one minute in the 100 breaststroke and time 4:15 or faster in the 400 IM.
Sophomore Brian Kuhn finished the meet with four medals, including one gold medal and three individual medals.
Kuhn, the 2017 Grossmont Hills League Swimmer of the Year for Grossmont High School (200 and 500 freestyle champion), captured a gold medal in the 800 freestyle relay while collecting two silver medals and one bronze medal.
Grossmont College’s 800 freestyle relay team clocked 7:11.18 to place seven seconds ahead of runner-up Palomar (7:18.13). Hail (Christian), Webster (Granite Hills) and Mack Nevins (Grossmont) also swam legs on the first-place team.
Kuhn finished second in the 400 IM (4:34.78) and 1650 freestyle (17:18.91) and third in the 500 freestyle (4:54.28).
The 1650 distance is equivalent to a mile and encompassed swimming 66 laps to complete it.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Kuhn, who scored 50 points for his team. “Being a distance swimmer we have more events at the community college level at our disposal. Being able to focus on more than just one event has been nice.”
Webster and Hail, both sophomores, scored 47 points for the Griffins. They each swam legs on Grossmont’s victorious 400 and 800 freestyle relay units.
Besides two relay gold medals, Hail placed third in both the 100 freestyle (47.43) and 200 freestyle (1:43.75) and fourth in the 50 freestyle (21.87) to score 47 points.
Besides winning two relay gold medals, Webster was second in 50 freestyle (21.21), third in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.11) and fifth in the one-meter diving competition (94.6 points).
Adding to his two relay gold medals, Steele Canyon alum Papike, another sophomore, placed runner-up in the 100 butterfly (52.09) while finishing fifth in the 100 freestyle (48.88) and sixth in the 50 freestyle (22.11). He scored 44 points for the team.
Everyone in the line-up contributed.
Webster, Nevins, Papike and Hail timed 3:08.42 to win the men’s 400 freestyle while Hail, Papike, Webster and freshman teammate Anson Rasmusson (Santana) finished second in the 200 freestyle relay (1:26.47).
Nevins finished second in the 200 freestyle (1:42.08) and 500 freestyle (4:46.52) while placing fourth in the 100 freestyle (47.44).
Rasmusson finished runner-up in the men’s three-meter diving competition with 149.8 points and runner-up in the one-meter diving competition with 133.1 points.
Also for the Griffins, sophomore Pat Sullivan (Patrick Henry) finished third in the 200 IM (2:07.89) and 200 butterfly (2:04.71) and fourth in the 400 IM (4:43.67). Meanwhile, sophomore Luis Nunez (Steele Canyon) finished third in the 1650 marathon swim (18:38.50).
“It’s been a great season,” Tran underscored. “Everybody has been super fast this weekend.”
Dickman shared the PCAC Male Co-Swimmer of the Year award with San Diego Mesa freshman John Dickerson, who captured five medals, including four gold medals, in leading the Olympians to a runner-up finish at last weekend’s conference championship meet.
Dickerson, a La Jolla High alumnus, captured individual gold medals in the 50 freestyle (20.87), 100 freestyle (45.85) and 200 freestyle (1:41.22). He also helped Mesa win a gold medal in the 200 freestyle relay (1:26.04) and place runner-up in the 200 medley relay (1:38.12).
Grossmont College’s women’s team finished third in the team standings with 552 points to place behind team champion Mesa (764 points) and runner-up Palomar (556 points). Southwestern finished fourth with 432 points while Crafton Hills was fifth with 140 points.
Sophomore Carli Willis, who scored 55 points for her team, proved to be the standout swimmer on the weekend for the Lady Griffins with individual gold medals in the women’s 400 IM (4:58.71) and 200 butterfly (2:19.42). She finished fourth in the 500 freestyle (5:32.68).
Mesa sophomore Julie Parsons (Otay Ranch) and Palomar freshman Maddy Johnson (Fallbrook) shared the PCAC Women’s Co-Swimmer of the Year award.
The 72nd annual California Community College Athletic Association swim and dive state championship meet is scheduled May 2-4 at De Anza College in Cupertino.
Willis, Hail, Nevins, Papike and Webster each competed in last year’s state meet for Grossmont.