The College of the Canyons swimming team hosted the Western State Conference Swim and Dive Meet No. 2 at the Santa Clarita Aquatics Center on Saturday.
The men’s team finished in third place out of 10 schools with 72 total points, accruing 14.09 percent of the points that were distributed among six of their nine swimmers. The women’s team placed ninth.
“We are continuing doing well from our first conference meet,” said Canyons head coach Sean Kakumu. “We are staying high (in the standings) compared to the rest of the conference. Again, we are just looking forward to a very competitive championship at the end of the season. Hopefully, we can place a little bit higher, that’s been the plan all along.
“The guys are stepping up compared to a lot of teams when we have nine guys, but they have been dominating the events they swim in. Basically, just following the idea that we can finish higher in the conference this year. That will be fantastic.”
Sophomore men’s swimmer Rowdy Feather paced the team with 14 total points, finishing second in two races: the men’s 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4-minutes, 27.06 seconds and 200-yard backstroke in 2:02.84.
“He’s in a leadership position now that he’s a sophomore,” Kakumu said about Feather. “He’s making other swimmers swim a little bit faster because they have his support. I mean he leads by example. He’s the hardest worker in practice, he’s the hardest working student on my team and everyone is just a little bit more inspired with him being there. We have a lot of guys like Emilio (Santoyo) and Ian (Werner) stepping up because of his lead.”
Sophomores Kenny Payne and Miguel Martinez each had two top-four finishes as Payne placed second in the men’s 500-yard freestyle (5:11.09) and fourth in the 200-yard freestyle (1:54.47), while Martinez took third in the 200-yard butterfly (2:08.74) and fourth in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:24.57).
Freshman Kevin Hanratty and Werner picked up three points combined, placing seventh in the 1000-yard freestyle and eighth in the 50-yard freestyle, respectively.
Emilio Santoyo and Kaley Gregory were the other two freshmen to pick up points for the Cougars.
Santoyo recorded 10 points with two fourth-place finishes in the men’s 400-yard individual medley (4:45.11) and in the 200-yard backstroke (2:09.27).
Gregory also had two sixth-place finishes in both the women’s 50-yard freestyle (28.13) and 100-yard freestyle (1:01.70) for six points.
Gregory was one of two women’s swimmers (Jaclyn Esse) that attended the meet, due to the other two being sick.
“They are doing fantastic. Sometimes it could be a little hard for freshmen to swim and do well in college, but they are adapting well to the training,” Kakumu said. “They are working hard to see what our sophomores do and doing everything to help and participate with the team. Again, being young and being able to go into a program that they didn’t have access to while they were in high school, it’s definitely making them improve beyond what they ever they thought they could do.”
The men’s 400-yard medley relay team comprised of Santoyo, Feather, Martinez and Werner was the only relay team to earn points, picking up 18 points in first place with a time of 3:45.05 seconds.
Overall, the teams combined for a seventh-place finish with 78 total points.
Canyons will be back in action on Friday, Mar. 29th in the WSC Swim and Dive Meet No. 3 at L.A. Valley College.
“…We can be a little fresher for our late straights, we can be a little more smart with how we plan our races, but again that’s going to make us a practice a little harder. We still have a couple meets to train again before our championship in April,” Kakumu said.
“Right now, this is the strongest men’s team I’ve ever had and we see the potential because they are willing to work for it.”