Win for homeless swim team

Rachel Roth / Roundup

Most teams prefer to compete in their home arena.

For the Pierce College swimming and diving team that isn’t an option.

Yet it didn’t prevent the men’s team from trouncing their biggest rivals yesterday when they beat Santa Monica College in the first duel meet of the season, 130-100, at the Santa Monica Swim Center.

Pierce’s lone diver Alex Dashiell took first in the three-meter dive and second in the one-meter.

This season, Pierce is without a pool. The new Steven E. Schofield Aquatic Center was supposed to open in November but has been pushed back to April 1.

As a result, the team has been practicing at Los Angeles Valley College.

“There’s a lot of problems with not having your own pool but we’re dealing with it,” said Fred Shaw who is in his 18th season as head coach of the swim team.

Shaw said that at times his swimmers are swim¬ming four to a lane and that traveling to Valley from Pierce often results in “less water time.”

The swimmers are also feeling the pinch.

“It’s made it a bit more difficult because we’re not on our home turf,” Eryk Hakman, second year swim¬mer, said. “We’re not practicing the way we’re used to. (At Valley) our workouts are a lot more limited… it’s a little demeaning but we’re not making any excuses.”

Efren Avila, first-year Pierce swimmer, echoed Hakman’s sentiments.

“Only having four or five lanes is not enough for our team,” he said. “We can’t wait to get our pool back in April in time for conference.”

If they continue swimming the way they did yes¬terday, it may not matter.

“I’m very optimistic,” Shaw said after the meet. “A lot of people (whom) I wasn’t sure of how they would swim came through and swam faster than we thought they would.”

The men swept the 50-yard freestyle event, which has never happened before.

“We’re usually a little weak in the sprints because we don’t have (a) water polo (team),” Shaw said.

Shaw was also please with distance swimmer Elizabeth Herrera, who took first in both the 1000 and 500-yard-swims.

• The numbers

This season, Pierce has more than doubled the members of its swim team.

Last year only seven men and one woman com¬peted. This year 17 men and five women don scarlet and white.

“It’s very encouraging because we have quality swimmers and we have numbers for the first time this year on the men’s team that we haven’t had in a couple of years,” Shaw said.

Hakman also describes this season as being “a lot more fun” due to the fact that they can be competitive with other teams.

“Last year we’d have a meet and (say) ‘we’re probably gonna lose, but let’s have a good meet.’ Now we go into the meets and (say) ‘let’s beat them,'” he added.

Even though the men have the personnel to win, the women still come up short. They were only able to earn 30 points in the meet against Santa Monica.

Shaw feels that a team needs “about a dozen” swimmers to get enough points to win.

He admits that “it would be ‘nicer'” for the women to be competitive, but isn’t discouraged that it won’t happen this season.

“The beautiful part about swimming is that there’s an individual component,” he said. “They can do their best time. They can keep improving. That’s what makes us happy.”

•Looking ahead

Pierce will travel to Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo on Friday to compete in the largest collegiate invitational in the United States.

For Shaw, it will be a good indication of where his team stacks up against the rest of the teams in the state.
But for now, he’s pleased with the first victory of the season.

“I (am) happy. The team showed good sportsman¬ship (and) even though we had a couple of people with colds and the flu they stuck it out and swam good.”

Eryk Hakman won the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2.37.89. He also led Pierce to victory in the 400-yard medley relay, swimming his leg in 1.06. (Sean MacDonald / Roundup)