The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
There are three weeks left in the regular season for the College of San Mateo swim team, and based on recent results, a successful postseason appears to be in the picture for both the men’s and women’s squads.
“We have some exceptional swimmers,” said CSM swim coach Randy Wright.
“What’s nice is it’s four, five swimmers a side and a couple of hot shots. The relays look good this year for the men and the women.”
Last year, the women’s team rode the wake of Andrea Chan and Najelah Najdawi to the Coast Conference team championship. This year’s team may not have that kind of star power, but it has the depth necessary to win another conference title.
“Last year, Andrea and Najelah were very powerful swimmers and I could juggle them around,” Wright said. “This year … I think the infantry (depth) is stronger. I like our chances (to win another conference championship).”
Not that the cupboard is completely bare. Shelby Campbell was an All American in the 50 fly last year and is strong in the individual medley as well — a race that incorporates all four swimming strokes into one event. Gianna Davino, Rachel Rosas and Kelcey Mercado gives the Bulldogs depth in the backstroke, individual medley and breast stroke. Freshman Miya Oto, however, appears to be a star in the making.
The Aragon grad transferred to CSM after a year at San Jose State University and is quickly proving her versatility. Last week at the CSM Invitational, to put up state qualifying times in the 200 IM, 500 free and 100 back strokes. Over the next two weeks, her goal is to qualify in the 50 and 100 free, as well as the 100 breast strokes. Because she can only choose three in which to compete at the state championships, Wright said they will weigh their options and choose the three events in which she has the best chance for her best finish.
“She has a great chance of doing great at state finals,” Wright said. “She could qualify for seven events.”
Last year, the CSM women not only won the conference crown, it had a top-10 finish at the state meet. Wright is hoping to do even better this year as a way of showing the program is progressing. Last year, he said he was just happy to have some swimmers at the
“We have the type of swimmers (who aren’t just happy) to go to state, we’re going to come home with medals,” Wright said. While the men’s team might not be as deep, there is still loads of talent at the top end of the squad, led by sophomore Masa Oto, who is one of Northern California’s best in the 100 and 200 fly races.
“He’s fun to watch,” Wright said. Wright also ran into a bit of luck in landing former Sacred Heart Prep standout Alex Navarro, who spent the last couple of years at the University of Pittsburgh. He left Pitt for University of San Francisco, started training again and now has an eye set on putting up an Olympic Trials qualifying time. There is no guarantee he can make it that far, but Wright is glad Navarro decided to let him help Navarro reached his goal
— while benefiting the CSM program at the same time.
“We got him for one season and he’s quite the exciting swimmer,” Wright said.“He’s up there among the state’s elite (in the 100 free). … He’s been progressing. We’ve seen a steady coming down of his times.”
Alex Navarro’s place at CSM drew younger brother Evan to the Bulldogs, and the return of Carlos Sanchez, who redshirted last season, give the Bulldogs the firepower to challenge for the Coast Conference crown.
“Foothill is (the defending conference) champion. They clearly have some studs and they’re going to go to states,” Wright said. “De Anza has a big team. … De Anza is probably the team to beat on the guys’ side.”