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Bears Swim Team Anticipates Another Successful Season

The M-A swim team looks to build on its recent success in the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) and Central Coast Section (CCS) in 2016 with a roster full of new and returning talent. In 2015, the Bears won all four PAL Titles (both girls and boys, and JV and varsity), placed well in CCS and qualified one girls 200 freestyle relay for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) state championship meet.
Swimmers and coaches alike have set their goals for 2016 higher than they did 2015, hoping to finish as one of the top 5 schools at CCS and to send a handful of swimmers to CIF state championships. The Bears welcome former assistant coach, Brett Koerten, to the head coach position this year. He is joined by returning assistant coaches Jane Worden, Aaron Burrow, and first year assistant coach Kohei Asano.

From left to right Brett Koerten, Jane Worden, Peter Caryotakis, Rick Longyear
From left to right Brett Koerten, Jane Worden, Peter Caryotakis, Rick Longyear

Despite graduating valuable point scorers last year, both coaches and athletes are excited about the talent of incoming freshmen and sophomores and anticipate an equally if not more successful season. Castilleja transfer, sophomore Izzy Henig, will join the Bears after an impressive freshman season. Henig is already qualified for the Olympic Trials held in June in the 50 free. The coaches are “excited to have her on the team and [are excited to] see what she can add to the girls team.”

Junior Marissa Shepard dives into the pool
Junior Marissa Shepard dives into the pool

All four girls who qualified for the CIF Championship Meet last year are returning to the deck: juniors Kate Denend, Sophie Murff, and Faith Dunn, and senior Maddie Worden. On the topic of the team dynamic, Dunn reflected, “we have created this inseparable bond.” Denend added that she “can see [the M-A swim team] going really far [this season and] is excited for the relays. We are going to have competitive relays across the board. Everyone should be watching out. We are going to add to how well M-A has been doing in sports this year.”

Junior Sophie Murff swims backstroke
Junior Sophie Murff swims backstroke

The coaches are looking to the upper classmen for leadership this season. Seniors Vincent Busque, Jak Tedesco, Mostyn Fero, Christian Huhn, Jack Beasley, Olivia Jackson, and Worden and juniors Denend, Murff, and Dunn are all “people on the team to look up to” according to Koerten. Koerten expressed the difficulty in choosing specific leaders as the team has “so many people that they count on to make [the] team great.” Other key swimmers to watch this year are sophomore Nik Caryotakis, sophomore Max Ferenczy, and senior Elton Rosicki.

When asked what events would be prioritized this season, Koerten replied that, “the sprint freestyles are some ones that we perform the best in consistently, but in order for our team to succeed, and in order to win PALs, we have to have great swims across the board.”

Junior Faith Dunn races in the 100 breast stroke
Junior Faith Dunn races in the 100 breast stroke

Koerton added that,“Swimming oftentimes can be viewed as an individual sport, because it’s just you swimming your own race. But we can’t win without it being a team effort.” The coaches encourage the whole team to be at every event to support their teammates as they “need all of those swims in order to win.” Caryotakis echoed Koerton, explaining that he looks forward to the feeling of “when you’re on the blocks and your team is behind you, [and] people are on the other side of the pool cheering you on in the bleachers; it’s exhilarating.”

In addition to maintaining their competitive profile, Koerten explained the importance of having fun: “We are a team that likes to have fun. We are a coaching staff that believes people will swim fast whenever they enjoy doing what they are doing. [As coaches, we] try to mix working hard with having a good time.”

Be sure to check back for updates as the Bears embark on what is sure to be a exciting and successful 2016 season.

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