By Tausifur Osmani
The Riverside City College men’s and women’s swim teams set several school and conference records at the Orange Empire Conference championship tournament at Fullerton College on April 23.
Despite missing out on the top spot, RCC made their presence known finishing second overall among their competition with Orange Coast College taking first place in the women’s division and Golden West College winning the men’s division.
The Tigers garnered supplemental positive recognition with superb individual performances courtesy of Maxence Bouvier, who was awarded the Swimmer of the Year honor.
Among setting a new OEC record in the 100 yard fly event posting a time of 49.01 seconds, Bouvier also won three additional events including the 50 yard free, 100 yard free, and the 200 yard free.
As a first time competitor it was not easy for Bouvier to achieve his accomplishments.
Adjusting to the American swimming style was quite the adjustment since Bouvier and fellow Frenchman and teammate Adrien Deloffre had to switch from meters to yards.
“It was my first year in yards, so coming from meters to yards (it was) a little bit hard for me,” Bouvier said.
Both swimmers had to essentially re-evaluate how many strokes would be necessary to properly carry out their execution in each event.
This was Bouvier’s first year in the tournament as well as his first time in the United States after making the journey over from the south of France.
Deloffre also posted impressive results by gaining victories in both the 500 yard freestyle and the 200 yard breaststroke events.
During the 500 yard freestyle Deloffre displayed his dominance by shattering the competition, establishing a healthy lead due to an uncanny ability to be at the half length of the pool whenever he kicks off the end wall.
Deloffre won the event with an eight second lead and set a conference record for the event with a time of 2:07.
He said the competition served as motivation to push harder.
“I wanted to stay aggressive and show the other teams that we are a force to be reckoned with,” Deloffre said.
Another returning sophomore and first place winner for the men’s 50 yard freestyle event Justin Rohn shared the sentiment echoed by Deloffre and spoke about competing with a chip on their shoulder as motivation.
“Being the only school from the Inland Empire, nobody really expects us to be really quick and aquatic.” Rohn said. “So we just go out there and prove to everybody that we are a team who can stand together and rise up to the challenge.”
The impressive output of the men’s team can be attributed to RCC head coach Jason Northcott who was awarded the Coach of the Year honor for the tournament.
Northcott emphasized the importance of maintaining poise as well as staying on top of their training routines to be in peak form come competition time.
“During training, we emphasize technique, legal turns, good walls and focused efforts,” Northcott said. “Confidence in training is important as we approach a championship meet.”
Also making their mark on the tournament was the women’s team who posted a cumulative score of 583 points which was good enough for a second place finish.
Sophomores Emily Martin and Kelly Perez both had standout performances.
Martin won second place honors in the women’s 100 yard freestyle missing out on the top honor in the narrowest of margins to Golden West’s Raney Remme who posted a time of 53.57 seconds to Martin’s 53.75 seconds.
Martin also placed second in the 50 and 200 yard freestyle events. Martin was satisfied with her results and spoke about her ascension throughout the season.
“I am very glad I got to improve my times throughout the season,” Martin said. “ I think I need to make some improvements on my technique going into state and hopefully I can drop some more time”
RCC women’s head coach Doug Finfrock has already began to look ahead at the state competitions coming up and has set a goal for his team.
“We want to train efficiently over the next week and a half and look to drop more time in our swims at state,” Finfrock said.
With state championship in a few weeks, the Tigers have plenty of top competitors including Perez also put on an admirable performance in the grueling 1650 yard freestyle event by medaling at third place.
Perez also finished second in the women’s 200 yard IM and exhibited a vigilant display on the 400 yard IM because not only was she able to complete her preliminary race without her cap for half the event, but she was also able to move up two seats in the finals as well as drop a couple of seconds off her time in the process.
“Someone once said ‘swimming is 30 percent training and 70 percent mentality’, which is extremely accurate,” Perez said.
Perez also said that she likes to listen to a song on repeat before a swim because it helps her set a swimming pace to utilize in an event.
She attributed some of her success to Keith Urban’s song “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.”
Overall the Tigers set 13 school records and four conference records over the three day tournament and look to replicate that same success by carrying the momentum over to the state championships on May 5-7 in East L.A College.