A true example of dedication: Bradley Rava

Bradley Rava was out of the pool by 9 a.m. on Sunday, after finishing what he called a “warm down,” a type of recuperative workout. Rava, along with the rest of the Santa Monica College swim team, had just returned from the Western State Conference swim championships at Los Angeles Valley College.

It was a typical Sunday for him in some respects, Rava often takes to the pool every morning each week, but with an added emphasis.

Later that afternoon, swimmers from across California would find out whether or not they qualified for the State Championships.

“The whole team was shaved and tapered for the meet.We got in our tech suits and everyone dropped times,” said Rava with a serious enthusiasm.

Tapering, he explained, is the process of gradually reducing a swimmer’s workload prior to a big competition.

Rava is a self-described competitor, and as a freshman at SMC he has been a standout, regularly finishing in the top four at swim meets, including two-first place finishes at SMC’s last home meet.

He grew up in El Segundo and started swimming in the fourth grade at the behest of his mother.

“My sisters were swimming and my mom wanted me to do something, so swimming was the natural choice.”

Rava got serious about the sport in middle school when he first broke a minute in the 100-meter freestyle.

“I was really excited about that,” said Rava.

This season, Rava performed best in the 500 and 1,650-yard freestyle events.

“I am not that versatile. I pretty much stick to the freestyle events, but I am the only one at SMC with the background to swim distance,” said Rava, a strength he attributed to a coach he had in high school whose focus was distance oriented.

Steven Contarsy, SMC's head swim coach,sees it a little differently. He credits Rava’s success to his tenacious “unparalleled work ethic,” and “incredible focus.”

According to Contarsy, Rava never misses a practice and is usually the first one in the water.

“Bradley [Rava] performs at his maximum ability all the time. He doesn’t take short cuts, and he never cheats. He is a true testament to the idea that dedication and hard work pays off,” said Contarsy.

Monday through Friday, Rava is in the pool twice, once at 6 a.m. and then again at noon, for two-hour workout sessions. A typical warm-up set is 20 laps followed by a 400-meter medley.

Rava, who thinks a lot about the science of swimming, explained that the workouts main set, which might include pulling sets and kick sets, varies from day to day in order to maintain flexibility of movement.

Rava was recruited out of high school for his swimming talents by a number of Division 2 and 3 schools, but decided to attend SMC for, as he put it, “the same reason many students come here. We want to do better.”

Ultimately he hopes to transfer to USC to continue his swimming career and pursue his major, which is mathematics.

On the immediate horizon though, is a date at East Los Angeles Community College.

Beginning April 25, swimmers with the best times in California will converge there for the 2013 state championships.

Rava placed second in the 500-yard freestyle and third in the 1,650-yard freestyle at last weekend’s conference meet.

“It looks like my times are going to get me in,” said Rava.