The Pomona-Pitzer Invitational in Claremont opened with a splash Saturday morning as the La Verne women’s swimming and diving team placed ninth while the men’s team placed 10th.
The men and women’s swimming and diving team attended along with many other teams in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, teams from Washington and the surrounding areas came to gain experience before heading into their seasons.
After both teams had the best first outing at the Malibu Invitational Head Coach John Hallman had ever seen, he thought it would be hard to do it again at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational but the Leopards were up to the challenge.
“Overall I was impressed and we had some lifetime bests,” Hallman said.
Senior Captain Casey Heinen came up big for the Leopards gaining a team high 23 points.
Placing ninth in the 200-yard individual medley and fifth in the 400-yard individual medley.
Heinen said that the main thing he did to improve was to train all summer so when this season hit, he was ready to go.
The men’s swimming and diving team was not in full force at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational because over half of the team’s swimmers play water polo, which is still in season and doesn’t end until this week.
“We don’t have all our water polo guys, but the guys that swam did really well,” Heinen said. “When we get the water polo guys back we will have to see what our team looks like.”
With half of its team missing, La Verne had some strong performances from the team’s younger competitors.
Sophomore Johannes Geist finished ninth in the 400-yard individual medley while freshman Jaime Beltran placed 16th in the 100-yard butterfly.
In the diving competitions of the day, sophomore diver Chad Loury finished in the top 10 in the one and three-meter dive, contributing 18 points on the day.
“We did really well, after a hard week in the weight room and in the pool; we swam good for being tired,” Heinen said.
On the women’s side it was really a team effort recording all of their 121 points from the relay competitions.
The women’s team ended the day with a best finish for the Leopards on the 200-yard freestyle relay placing sixth with a time of 1:46.30
“We ended up doing fairly well,” junior swimmer Jennifer Gilderman said. “People did really well individually with some season and personal bests.”
The women’s team gained some promising new freshman this season.
Freshman Mahina Melli Reyes swam the best for the Leopards almost scoring individual points missing the mark by one spot out of the top 16.
“Our team is bigger than last year, we got some really strong freshmen,” sophomore Lindsay Jones said.
The Pomona-Pitzer Invitational was the first chance the La Verne women’s team got to size up their competition.
“For the women it looks like certain teams got stronger and the conference is going to be competitive,” Hallman said.
The women’s team is focused and embracing it’s new additions to try and bring a competitive team to conference.
“In SCIAC we want to bring better competition,” Gilderman said. “By having more girls we can give faster times and be more competitive.”
Overall this outing at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational showed some good things for both teams.
“What really stood out was that a few people had good attitudes, and set aside how they were feeling for the team,” Hallman said.
Hallman said that these two teams have been working extra hard this season in the weight room with the head of strength and conditioning Matt Durant.
He says the extra work has started to pay off in their performances.
The Leopards men and women’s swimming and diving teams will continue competition 9 a.m. this Saturday in Redlands for the Redlands Pentathlon.
Morgan Dobis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.