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The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Swimmers take their mark at CIF state championship

Jason Mitchell

      For the first time in Poly history, the Panthers’ swim team competed at the CIF State Championships. Despite qualifying in previous years, this was the first year the swim team was able to attend the championship meet in Fresno. This season has been a breakthrough in Poly history and continues to demonstrate the success of each swimmer on the team.

      The Varsity swim team consists of athletes across grade levels, each working hard to master their sport. The long, hard strokes can be tedious and repetitive, but the team’s cohesive dynamic helps them form relationships and have fun while supporting one another. Freshmen Nathan Yagura and Danica Hua as well as sophomores Miki Chan and Brandon Shin all noted the supportive environment their teammates and coaches provided that contributed to their individual success. “I think the highlight for me was bonding with my friends, as well as the upperclassmen and coaches. It is all very encouraging, and we’re always pushing each other to do better during the sets,” Yagura said. “Everyone has a lot of fun, and there is this friendly competition that goes on during practice that helps build a connection with people and helps you to grow,” shared Hua.

      A commendable number of swimmers placed in important meets and league championships. Junior Julia Pisano finished 33rd place state-wide for the girls’ 50 freestyle, and a relay with senior Michael Munder, senior Bobby Hall, sophomore Brandon Shin and junior Oliver Mann finished in 27th place state-wide for the boys’ 200 freestyle relay, breaking the previous school record of 1:28:04 with a new record of 1:26:30. Shin attributed the successful season to the team’s leadership. He said, “The coaching style is a great mix of discipline and encouragement. Co-head coach Ryan Katsuyama focuses on developing our individual strengths while also emphasizing the importance of teamwork and mutual support. This balanced approach has really helped us grow both as athletes and as a team.”

      The dedication to the sport throughout the group is consistent as both experienced club swimmers and amateur swimmers bond over the same passion. Yagura and Shin noted that even though Hall was new to the sport of swimming this year, he showed up to every practice, bringing his full effort to improve and encourage his teammates. Consistent effort helped the Panthers make small changes that helped cultivate stronger mindsets as well as better athletic performance. Chan said, “I was able to see myself and others improve themselves mentally and gain more confidence when swimming their events. Despite our dropped or added times, I enjoyed seeing myself and my teammates gradually better themselves in relation to getting more comfortable in the water as the season progressed.”

      Thanks to the guidance of head coaches Katsuyama and Ryan Rodriguez and the continuous hard work of the individual student athletes, the Poly swim team made history this season and has made the future of Poly’s swim team look promisingly bright.

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