Alpine swimmer paces Grossmont College with gold medals

The Pacific Coast Athletic Conference held its first swim and dive championship meet since 2019 last weekend, April 21-23, at Southwestern College. It was a triumphant return to the pool for many swimmers who had their 2020 season cut short by the Coronavirus shutdown.

In all, two full seasons were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was exciting to get back into the pool, back into swimming,” Grossmont College men’s head coach Anhton Tran said. “But it’s been rough coming back from a long time off.”

Five teams participated in the 2022 PCAC championship meet: Southwestern College, Grossmont College, San Diego Mesa College, Palomar College and Crafton Hills College.

Grossmont College captured the men’s team title with 757 points while San Diego Mesa won the women’s title with 759 points.

Palomar College finished runner- up in the men’s field with 675 points while Grossmont placed second in the women’s field with 548 points.

Despite lower numbers, it was a competitive meet thanks to the rules that govern community college swimming. At the community college level, swimmers can compete in as many as seven events over the course of a championship meet — three individual events and four relays.

Teams were thus able to stretch their talent across the board to pile up points.

That definitely worked in the favor of the Grossmont College men. Palomar College recorded first-place finishes in 11 of the 20 men’s events to Grossmont’s six event championships, but the Griffins prevailed by numbers.

“A lot of depth was the difference,” said Tran, who earned honors as the PCAC Men’s Coach of the Year. “We had multiple swimmers in the championship finals.”

Local spotlight

Grossmont College freshman Madison Dickman, a 2021 graduate of Granite Hills High School and Alpine resident, finished with a chest full of medals at this year’s conference finals.

The Lady Griffins managed to squeeze in two event victories in a meet otherwise dominated by Mesa College with 14 firstplace finishes, including diving. Dickman was involved in both Grossmont wins.

She combined with teammates Maegan Calcutt (West Hills), Annika Prado (Valhalla) and Moana Hasenstab (Point Loma) to claim first place 800 freestyle (4×200) relay in 8:46.76. Dickman came back to post the top time in the 200 backstroke in 2:23.95.

Dickman also placed third in the 400 freestyle relay (4:01.66), fourth in the 100 backstroke (1:09.58) and fifth in the 500 freestyle (5:55.97).

The times in the 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke were college bests.

“Swimming at the community college level is very difficult,” said Dickman, who placed runner- up at the Grossmont Hills League finals in the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke and was part of two league championships with the Lady Eagles.

“Everyone puts up a great race. I was very fortunate I was able to win two of them. My goals entering my freshmen year were to make the state meet in the 200 backstroke and win the PCAC in the 200 backstroke and get as far as I could in all my faces for these championships.”

The top five place-finishers in each race received medals.

The Lady Griffins tallied four second-place event finishes: Hasenstab in the 50 freestyle (27.03), Prado in the 400 IM (5:38.77) and Calcutt in the 200 freestyle (2:06.65) and 200 butterfly (2:33.45).

Third-place finishers include Ashley Leland in the 100 butterfly (1:15.19), Hasenstab in the 200 freestyle (2:13.83), Brianna Gilliam in the 100 backstroke (1:09.36) and Prado in the 200 butterfly (2:52.36).

The state championship meet is scheduled Mary 5-7 at East Los Angeles College.

Eastern exposure

Individual event champions for the Grossmont men included Emilio Camarillo (Eastlake) in the 200 individual medley (1:59.10), Carlos Lazarr (West Hills) in the 100 backstroke and Jacob Nelson (Ramona) in the three-meter diving competition (203 points).

The Griffins captured all three freestyle relays with the lineup of Camarillo, Emiliano Castro (Bonita Vista), Garrett Durado (Poway) and Ben Berk (Grossmont). The quartet won the meet opening 200 freestyle relay in 1:26.42, posted the fastest time in the 800 freestyle relay in 7:16.24 and won the meet-concluding 400 freestyle relay in 3:09.71.

Durado also finished second in the 500 freestyle (4:50.35), Ryan Beery (Classical Academy) placed second in the 200 IM (2:02.17), Berk finished second in the 50 freestyle (21.49) and 200 butterfly (1:59.48), Camarillo finished second in the 100 butterfly (51.84) and Lazarr finished second in the 200 backstroke (2:10.67).

The 1,650 freestyle race is the marathon event in the conference finals consisting of 66 laps.

Alpine swimmer paces Grossmont College with gold medals

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