The swim and diving team represented APU at the PCSC championships from Feb. 8–11 by qualifying a record number of swimmers and divers for national championships and finishing fourth overall.
Four swimmers qualified in the “B” cut in different events, two divers qualified and three separate relay teams could all be headed to nationals.
Junior distance swimmers Tamara Miller and Rosalee Mira Santa Ana both made the “B” cut in the 1650-yard free race. Miller set a school record with a time of 16:55.83, good for second overall at the championships. Santa Ana followed with a time of 17:18.01.
“On my four years on the swim team, this is the best we’ve ever done,” senior swim captain Heidi Zuniga said. “We have more girls that qualified for nationals this year than any other year. As a team we did awesome. We had some crazy fast times, a lot of season bests and personal bests.”
Sophomore Abigail Wiet made the “B” cut in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 203.31, placing fifth overall. She also qualified for nationals in the 400-yard IM (all four strokes) with a time of 4:25.18, placing third in that event.
In the 100-yard free, sophomore Elodie Poo Cheong made the “B” cut with a time of 51.95, less than two tenths of a second away from breaking the school record. Poo Cheong also made the “B” cut in the 100-yard fly with a time of 56.27, accompanying fellow APU swimmer Angel Van Hofwegen who swam slightly faster with a time of 56.21.
“It’s amazing to see how the team has grown in the past four years and how many fast girls we keep getting,” Zuniga said. “Just to see the number of girls that go to nationals, it gets bigger every year. It’s great to see their hard work pay off.”
The Cougars also qualified in the 400-free relay team for nationals with “B” cut times. The foursome of Poo Cheong, Santa Ana, Alyse Darnall and Rachel Wasko qualified with a “B” cut time of 3:31.02.
Swimming head coach Tim Kyle noted the amount of swimmers who didn’t qualify for nationals, but who had a huge impact at the conference championships by scoring points in all their respective events and cheering for the rest of the team.
“We did amazing. With swimming there’s a lot of training that builds all up towards our conference finals,” Kyle said. “We had some tremendous swimmers and a lot of athletes added value not only through points but in spirit. It was just an amazing experience for everyone.”
Kyle emphasized the significance that the conference championships and nationals have for APU, earning the university and its athletes national recognition.
“I’m proud of our team, of how we competed, how we represented APU,” Kyle said. “And I’m thankful that God gave us a fantastic weekend, and that we were able to give it all back to God.”
He noted the high expectations he has for the swim team every year, and that they met all of these expectations at the championships.
The other half of the swim and dive team, the divers, also qualified two athletes for nationals. Junior Kianna Mourer and sophomore Rachel Johns swept the 1-meter dive competition. Mourer took first overall with a score of 269.60, winning the event for the third straight season. Johns placed second with a score of 252.40.
“It went really well for me,” Johns said. “The 1-meter was my strong point during the meet and I had a lot of fun competing in it. It was my best performance on 1-meter by far this season, so I was happy with that.”
Mourer also won the 3-meter dive competition with a score of 272.25. This was a meet record, as she won this event for the third straight year as well.
Both Mourer and Johns are headed to nationals for the second time together.
“I’m excited for nationals because I know how I have to perform to make it through, unlike last year when I didn’t know what to expect,” Johns said.
The diving team scored many points, which helped the team claim fourth overall. Although they do not practice together, Zuniga noted how close they are and important to each others’ success.
“The divers are a big reason why we got fourth overall. The points that they get really helps us out as a team. We wouldn’t have placed where we did without the divers,” Zuniga said. “It’s great to see swimmers have success, but we don’t really get to see how the divers do. When we’re able to see what they do, it’s amazing. We’re lucky to have the divers as part of our team.”
Zuniga and fellow senior swimmers Rachel Allison, Sydney Escalante, Ali Gomez and Brooke Miller all finished their final meet as Cougars on Saturday.
The final roster for Nationals will be announced on Feb. 20; “B” cuts are not final until then.