The Southwestern Oregon Community College swim team had its best national meet yet, in terms of speed, setting a total of 24 new school records, as the men finished third and the women fourth in the final team standings.
“The success of the team was a true team effort,” coach Sandra Bullock said. “All 27 athletes that compete for Southwestern did their part to add to the team success.
“It turned out to be a very fast meet. The SWOCC swim team, as a whole, swam faster than any other team in SWOCC’s short history.”
The Lakers got their first-ever national champion, when Collin McGuire won the 1,650-yard freestyle, finishing in 16 minutes and 17.67 seconds.
“This is an incredible milestone for Collin and the swimming program,” Bullock said.
The Lakers had six women place in the top eight in at least one individual event.
Freshman Patricija Ozola, from Riga, Latvia, placed second in both the 100 (57.86) and 200 backstroke (2:06.86) and was third in the 50 backstroke and 50 butterfly (26.48), setting new school records the two longer backstroke races and the butterfly.
Piper Engler was second in the 50 backstroke and third in the 100 backstroke, sixth in the 200 backstroke and eighth in the 1,000 freestyle.
Freshman Verity Vogel-Rigler was fourth in the 1,000 freestyle and the 400 individual medley, setting a school record in the latter event (4:45.68). She also was fifth in the 500 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle.
Freshman Natalie Soive, who has had a season plagued with injuries and illness, set school records in the 200 individual medley (2:14.13), 200 freestyle (1:59.96), 100 breaststroke (1:07.94) and 200 breaststroke (2:29.19). She had her best finish, third place, in the 200 breaststroke.
Jaelyn Estabilio and Kaitlyn Hester also had top-eight finishes for the Lakers.
SWOCC set records in three relays, with the teams of Vogel-Rigler, Soive, Engler and Ozola setting new marks in the 400 freestyle (3:41.52) and 200 medley (1:51.01) relays. Engler, Estabilio, Ozola and Hester set a record in the 400 medley relay (4:04.42).
The men also had six different swimmers post top-eight finishes.
In addition to his win in the 1,650 freestyle, McGuire set records in the 200 butterfly (1:55.74) while placing fifth and the 400 individual medley (4:12.39) while placing sixth. He also was fifth in the 1,000 freestyle.
James Camp, a freshman from Brisbane, Australia, set school records while placing second in the 100 butterfly (48.05), 100 individual medley (50.75) and 50 butterfly (21.42) and third in the 50 freestyle (20.22).
Freshman Emerson Zaplatar broke longstanding school records while placing third in the 50 breaststroke (25.55), fourth in the 200 beaststroke (2:05.37) and fifth in the 100 breaststroke (56.40). He also was fifth in the 100 individual medley.
Austin Turner, Landon Stalnaker and Hunter Sherwood also posted top-eight finishes and seven other Lakers scored.
The Lakers set three relay records, with a third-place finish in the 400 freestyle by Stalnaker, Elliot Steward, McGuire and Camp (3:08.66), a third-place finish in the 800 freestyle relay by Zaplater, Brett Rice, Stalnaker and McGuire (7:05.83) and a second-place effort in the 200 medley relay by Turner, Zaplatar, Camp and Stalnaker (1:32.20).
“In our fifth season, we have definitely set the expectation of a culture of excellence and they had fun doing it,” Bullock said. “We continue to raise the bar, with numerous CSCAA first- and second-team All-Americans and our first-ever NJCAA All-American.
“I am so proud of this year’s team and what they have stood for all year long. There is no doubt they are setting the example and living by our core values of family, integrity, grit, honor and trust.”
Bullock said she knew this year’s team was special.
“They proved what was special was their character,” she said. “They left a legacy of a unified team that supports each other no matter what the scoreboard says.
“I am unbelievably proud of this team and am excited for what the future holds for SWOCC swimming.”