Attendees gathered to see swimmers forcing their bodies through the water, hoping to touch the lip of the pools at Las Flores Park as the Leopards finished strong at their final home meet against the Caltech Beavers in a close 121-111 win for the men and a 116-106 win for the women.
“It was a very exciting end,” head coach Pat Skehan said. The Leopards came into the meet down by six points. “We got our best swimmers against their best swimmers, and they stepped it up, “ Skehan said.
“I feel really good. I’m really worn down,” sophomore Marc Okimura said. Okimura placed first in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:01.70. “In college swimming you think you get faster all season, but it comes down to the tapering at the end. That’s where you see your speed increase,” Okimura said.
This was the final home meet going into the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship. “It was a bit sad because I’m done with competitive swimming,” senior Brittany Orduno said. “It’s been part of my life for so long, it’s sad.”
The meet was also Senior Day, recognizing seniors on the swim team. Senior Shane Hurter earned a first place win in the 200-yard backstroke coming in at 1:56:93.
“It feels nostalgic; I’ve been doing it since I was six,” Hurter said. “I think when you know it’s coming to the end you just enjoy everything you can, not care about time, enjoying all the details like the sun and the support.”
Hurter is a transfer student from UC Santa Barbara.
“It opened up new doors, I made new friends; I guess it’s been really rewarding transferring to La Verne,” Hurter said.
“I was just thinking we’re not going to do this again,” senior Terrah Carroll said. “It’s a good ending memory,” Carroll placed first with a 2:08.48 win in the 200-yard freestyle. The Leopards hosted this meet as a fan appreciation day, where attendees received raffle tickets to win prizes.
“It’s a nice thing,” junior Niki Affolter said. “It brings out people who don’t know that we have a swim team.”
“I’m here to see my friends swim on this fan appreciation day.”
“For me, I love to feed off the crowd; I love when people come out,” Okimura said. “It’s like a family feeling for them to come out and support.”
For fans, the SCIAC Championship will be another opportunity to cheer on the Leopards.
“The whole season’s work is going to show,” senior Jaycee Hallford said. “If I would rank myself in SCIAC, I think I have a good chance at first in the breaststroke, so I’m excited.” Okimura said.
“The team needed to know they were good everyday.” Skehan said. The SCIAC Championship will be held Feb. 19-21 in South Gate.
Karo Chakhlasyan can be reached at email@example.com.