Grossmont Griffins wins PCAC Swim Championship

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Grossmont Community College students may be Griffins on land, but they are sharks in the water.

Favorites to win, and up to the challenge, Grossmont’s swim team carried away the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championship 2016 title last weekend, April 21-23, after a current of successes this season.

Their women’s team garnered 922 points, taking first, and the men took second with 761 points.

Grossmont Community College students may be Griffins on land, but they are sharks in the water.

Favorites to win, and up to the challenge, Grossmont’s swim team carried away the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championship 2016 title last weekend, April 21-23, after a current of successes this season.

Their women’s team garnered 922 points, taking first, and the men took second with 761 points.

Women’s Head Coach Larry Larsen said he was pleased with the outcome.

“It feels great,” he said. “This is our big meet of the year and what everyone is training for all year.”

Grossmont’s swim and dive program has seen incredible success over the years, with 45 All-Americans creating ripples in its pool since 1990.

This season’s champions are no exception. Last week, Grossmont sent five women and 3 men to the Southern California Dive Championship. They won there as well.

Men’s Head Coach Anhton Tran said getting to this point has required an all-season effort and non-stop practice.

“You have to train hard all season to get your proper rest in order to recover your body in order to swim faster,” he said. “So the whole season starts on day one.”

It is not just a physical sport, said Tran, but a mental one.

“All of it is important,” he said. “Getting the team fully committed, showing up to practice and working hard, trusting the process and being there for each other.”

But it was not all clear skies for the Griffins. The championship, held at Palomar College’s Wallace Memorial Pool, was heavily fought for by the home Comets and the veritable Poseidons of Mesa College, who took second, in a close competition with less than 300 points difference in the final tally.

Rockne O’Brien, who placed first in the men’s 100 and 200, said the added pressure of intense competition actually helps his performance.

“It makes me feel more alive,” said the sophomore swimmer who admits his swim season has been choppy. “It’s a better way to race than to race when you know you’re going to win.”

Leading the ladies, Team Captain Summer Parsons said the three-day meet is physically strenuous on everyone. Attitude is key, she said.

“I try to lead with positivity,” said Parsons. “It’s really hard to keep yourself motivated. Swimming is kind of a hard sport. You’re constantly trying to get your personal best and it doesn’t always happen.”

It did happen for Parsons this weekend, who touched the wall for second place in the 200-yard freestyle at 1:59:48. 

“I had a couple of goals,” Parsons said. “I didn’t meet one yesterday and today I met one. I got under two minutes in my 200 freestyle. I can’t ask for much better than that.”

Teammate Alex Hultman described Parsons as an encouraging leader, the kind who will convince you to get into a cold pool to work out when you are already tired and sore. But, Hultman said, it has made all the difference for the team. 

“I think we’re pretty tough,” she said. 

Toughness is a must at a three-day meet like the PCAC championship. Swimmers arrived at 10:00 each morning for prelims and returned at 3:00 each afternoon for finals. Each race is like a sprint, leaving swimmers exhausted with little more than 20 minutes in some cases to recuperate before the next race. 

“It is a big meet where some swimmers are doing three or four races a day,” said Tran. “You have to mentally prepare yourself, warm-up properly, warm-down properly. You have to take it one race at a time.”

The State Swim & Dive Championships will be held at East Los Angeles College, May 5-7.

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