Canyons Aquatic makes history at CA/NV Speedo Sectional Championships

The Canyons Aquatic Swim Club earned Bronze Medal Status in the USA Swimming Club of Excellence Program after nine swimmers qualified for the Junior National Championships in late December. Photo courtesy Kevin Nielsen/Canyons Aquatic

Canyons Aquatic Club made history at the four-day California/Nevada Speedo Sectional Championships in Carlsbad, CA on Feb. 27 – March 1.

A few days before the meet Kevin Nielsen, the senior elite coach for Canyons, calculated the times of the 400-medley relay team of Maxine Catig, Izabella Adame, Viviana Raker and Reagan Nibarger and found out that their best times were just a second or so slower than the team’s and Southern California Swimming (SCS) record and approached the swimmers.

“They were close to those records and doing some quick math, their best times were a half-second slower than the record,” Nielson said. “A few days before the swim meet, I approached them and said, ‘Hey, you know, the 17-18 girls, your times are really close to the record. You want to go for it?’”

The team stepped it up, got first place and broke the record with a time of 3 minutes, 41.59 seconds, beating the record by almost two seconds. The previous record was 3:43.47 set in 2014.

Catig swam the backstroke leg (56.02), Adame the breaststroke (1:00.49), Raker the butterfly (55.05) and Nibarger the freestyle leg in (50.03).

“It’s really good because we haven’t broken any of those records ever since Coley Stickels left,” Nielson said. “He was a great coach who coached Abbey Weitzel. The team hasn’t had any records since then so I think it’s pretty cool and special for those girls to be in the company of those athletes that Coley coached.”

With the new record, Canyons’ medley relay team’s time ranks No. 1 in the country in the 17-18 age group.

Adame is also one of two Canyons’ swimmers, along with boys swimmer Charlie Morici, who are making statements by being named to the 18 & Under World Top 100 list.

Adame made the list in the 100-meter breaststroke with a US Olympic Trials qualifying time of 1:10.84 for 76th in the world.

Morici ranks 86th in the world with a US Open qualifying time of 54.81 in the 100-meter butterfly.

“A lot of the things that they have been working on, it doesn’t happen right away, but they are trusting the process, keeping with their work ethic and trying to find ways to get better,” Nielsen said. “If they do that over time, then eventually, some of the things that they are working on, they can execute them in a race. It takes some persistence, consistency and really good attendance. They are always there, I don’t have to tell them to work hard so that’s really, really huge.”

Canyons has consistently been climbing up the ranks of the countries’ elite swimming clubs and were only beat out by two other clubs having Adame, Morici and seven swimmers qualify for the Junior National Championships in Federal Way, Wash. on Dec. 11-14.

Kyle Brill (Hart), Riley Botton (Saugus), Catig (Hart), Ike Harms (Canyon), Adame (Valencia), Morici (West Ranch), Nibarger (West Ranch) Julia Unas (Valencia) and Ted Hwang (Valencia) all qualified.

As a result, the club was recognized and earned back Bronze Metal Status in USA Swimming Club Excellence Program. Canyons is the only SCV team to be recognized for the award.

“The club excellence program that USA Swimming has is designed to recognize the best teams in the country,” Nielsen said. “It’s really on the athletes to step it up and I have to help guide them, but it’s the athletes putting in the work and the time to help get the club to that level.”

Canyons Aquatic’s following swim meet is the 2020 Spring Junior Olympic Championships for the 14 & Under age group at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena on Thursday through Sunday. Warm-ups begin at 3 p.m. on Thursday and the first event at 4 p.m.

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