Corsair swim team sets multiple records

This past weekend marked the annual California Community College Athletic Association State Championships which the Santa Monica College swim team participated in.

The meet, which was held at East Los Angeles College, proved to be one of SMC’s better showings in recent years, as the Corsairs would not only set multiple state records, but also capture All-American honors in multiple races.

Highlighting the meet was SMC breaststroke specialist Jia “Jace” Ng, who set new state records in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke, and also earned All-American honors in each category.

Ng won the 100-yard event with an impressive time of 53.80, beating second place finisher Loai Tashkandi from Golden West College by more than two seconds.

When Ng set the new state record, he usurped former SMC swimmer Jeff Lum, who set the previous record time of 54.48 in 2012.

Ng also set a new state record in the 200-yard breaststroke, with a winning time of 1:59.15, beating second place finisher Darren Chan Chin Wah of De Anza College, by almost four seconds.

Just as he did in the 100-yard breaststroke, Ng bumped down former SMC swimmer Jeff Lum for the state record. Lum previously held the mark with a time of 1:59.35, which was also set in 2012.

“Jace is basically an international athlete. He has the ability to compete on the international level,” said Head Coach Steven Contarsy. “At the conference championship, the goal is for 100 percent of the athletes who swim in all of their events, to have a 100 percent lifetime bests, and we actually achieved that goal this year. Every single athlete in the water, they all posted personal bests.”

Rounding out the 200 and 400-yard medley teams for SMC was Abdul Al Ishaq Rahman competing in the backstroke, Steven Jalamo representing SMC in the butterfly, and freestyle swimmer Toby Contarsy.

The Corsairs finished sixth in the 400-yard medley relay and ninth in the 200-yard medley relay. Though it may not have been the result they were looking for, the team still earned All-American honors in both races.

Not only did Rahman anchor the backstroke section of the relays, but he also placed ninth in the 100-yard backstroke and tenth in the 200-yard backstroke, both of which earned him All-American honors as well.

“I’ve had teams that were more experienced. I’ve had teams that were faster, but this team worked hard, trained hard, they had good chemistry,” said Contarsy. “They pushed each other, they supported each other, and the people who put in the work and followed the program, they were successful.”

In addition to swimming the freestyle leg of the medley relays, Toby Contarsy is also the youngest son of Coach Contarsy, and the third of his brothers to compete for SMC in the state championships.

With only Jalamo currently slated to graduate from SMC before next season, it seems that last weekend’s state finals could be looked at as more of a training session for a possible banner year in 2015. A year that could see almost the whole team returning for another shot at multiple state titles.

After record setting performances by Ng in just his first year with SMC, the outlook on next year’s team looks very bright. But if the team is going to take the next step toward additional state titles, including the medley relays, Ng knows it’s going to take a big commitment from everyone on the team.

“I definitely believe next year will be a banner year. I think the team in general did pretty well this year. Performance and success is relative and I’ve seen some of them improve individually,” said Ng. “It would be good if we got faster as a group, so it lifts the whole team. It’s hard for only few individuals to make up the team. You need a good 10 people.”

Only time will tell what the young Corsairs will be able to do in next years state championships. But with leaders like Ng aware of what it will take to succeed at the championship level, the team hopes the foundation being built on is stronger than ever.