With the postseason looming, LPC’s swim team is looking to cap off what has been a successful season with a strong finish.
The Nor Cal Diving Championship at De Anza College is the final meet before conference championships. This is a pivotal meet for a number of the school’s swim and dive team members. The meet takes place April 12 and the team is hard at work as they put together their final preparations for the event.
While the men appear to be having the stronger season as a whole, Head Coach Jason Craighead sees a potential state representative on the women’s side in freshman diver Donna Rotella.
“Donna has been one of our top performers,” Craighead said. “We believe she has a chance to make it to state.”
In just her first year at LPC, Rotella has opened the eyes of her coaches. A strong performance from Rotella would go a long way in boosting her chances of making it to Los Angeles in May for the state showdown.
“This is an important meet for me,” Rotella said. “My coaches are preparing me well and I feel confident.”
On the men’s side, sophomore diver Gabe Nieto will also be looking to impress at De Anza. A diver since his junior year at Granada High School, Nieto understands what’s at stake in the upcoming meet.
“I have to do good this weekend,” Nieto said. “I’ve been preparing hard and I’ll be ready to go.”
Nieto was the lone representative for LPC at the State Championships last season.
A week after Nor Cal Diving comes perhaps the biggest meet of them all: Coast Conference Championships. The meet takes place at Chabot College April 17-19 and it determines which swimmers go on to the state finals.
“The top 16 fastest times there make it to state,” Craighead said. “It can be kind of a crapshoot at times. Our job is to get them prepared as well as we can.”
Still, Craighead has an idea of what members of his squad have a shot to make it to Los Angeles. Chief among those is sophomore Justin Stafford.
In the team’s most recent meet, the ARC Pentathlon, Stafford turned in a noteworthy performance as he had the top time in two of the three 50 yard frees that day. A performance like that is sure to give Stafford confidence as the season comes to a close.
“He finished the year strong,” Craighead said. “Justin is one of our fastest swimmers.”
Nichole Maria Cui, another state hopeful, finished sixth out of 61 in the women’s 50 yard fly at ARC. Cui was edged out of a final spot in the State Championships last season. She is hopeful to get over the hump in 2014.
“I really want to win a medal,” Cui said. “That’s one of my goals.”
Overall, the ARC Pentathlon was successful as it was more of a preparation for the postseason in the eyes of coach Craighead. For the Pentathlon, the results on paper were not as important. The team was just looking for improvements for swimmers who were competing in events they are not normally used to being in.
“We looked at it as a tune-up and it went well,” Craighead said.
With the women having brought home a conference title last year, the men are looking to bring a title of their own to the school this season. Led by Justin Stafford and a strong group of fast freshmen, they are feeling good about their chances.
“We believe the men will be one of the favorites,” Craighead said. “They’re gonna have a good shot.”