With only a few meets remaining, it is now crunch-time for the LPC swim and dive team.
Head Coach Jason Craighead has been impressed with his team’s performance throughout the season and he is hoping the team can end the season with a bang.
“It’s all starting to come together right now,” Craighead said.
One swimmer in particular that Craighead has been impressed with is sophomore diver McKenna Stevulak. After being out of competition last season due to redshirting, Stevulak has bounced back strong. She has already broken three school records this season in the 100 fly, 500 freestyle and 400 individual medley races. It appears the season off did not affect her performance.
“It didn’t affect her a whole lot,” Craighead said. “I think she’s stronger, both mentally and physically.”
While Stevulak is enjoying a record-breaking season, she is not the only swimmer having a good year. Craighead feels the team will be able to send multiple divers to championships, both on the men and women’s teams.
“They’ve come a long way,” Craighead said. “I expect four to five women qualify for state, as well as two to three men to make it for diving also.”
Some specific names Craighead threw out there who he expects to qualify are sophomore divers Donna Rotella, Gabe Nieto and freshman diver Valentina Barbalinardo.
In their most recent meet, the team had to participate in back-to-back competitions. This was done purposely by Craighead in order to get the team acclimated to competing on back-to-back days, something they will be faced with during championships.
“We scheduled that meet and another one the day after to give us a chance to prepare for back-to-back days,” Craighead said. “Learn to race one day, travel and race again the next day.”
Despite having two meets in two days, you could argue the Hawks performed even better on the second day at the Delta Invite in Stockton. Valentina Barbalinardo was crowned female diving champion of the meet while sophomore Austin Johnson was the butterfly champion.
With only a few meets left in the season, Craighead already has some goals set for his team as the regular season comes to an end.
“It’s gonna be a final tune-up,” Craighead said. “Those that are definite on what events they’ll focus on for state will focus on that and some will try new races to get a feel on how they can best contribute for championships.”
LPC will be hosting the swim and dive championships next year. Craighead would love nothing better than to win it all this season and have the opportunity to defend their crowns on their home turf in 2016.
“Our goal at the outset was to win both men and women’s champs this year and defend it next year at our home.”