Swim Team Sets State Records at Community College Championships

An undefeated season came to a close for the Santa Monica College Women's Swim Team last weekend at the state championships in Long Beach. Of course, there was only one way that these ladies saw fit to finish their run.

Eight ladies and one gentleman led by coach Steven Contarsy traveled down to Long Beach to compete at the California Community College State Championship.

"It was a tremendous team effort, and tremendous accomplishment in being able to compete and swim against some of the best swimmers in the country," said Contarsy when speaking of the event.

But that wasn't the half of it. In fact, SMC is now home to two state champions.

Isabella Zhang is number one for the 100 yard freestyle with a time of 51.80 seconds. In addition, Sarah Ritz became champion of the three-meter dive with a score of 223 points.

The team competed in four relays, all of which took fifth place in the state. Two of which were the 200 and 400-yard-medley relays that the team had already set new conference records for, and the 400-yard contest this time was faster than that record.

Sarma Zemjanis swam backstroke in the relays, Sara Zandihn took on the breaststroke, Zhang the butterfly, and Chelsea Kemp swam freestyle.

In addition, Kemp also placed eighth in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:12.98. Nam-Hee Kim took tenth in the mile event with a time of 18:34.5; this was Kim's first time in the event, and it was the longest of the competition.

Ryan King the only male representative of SMC, placed fourth in the one meter dive, and seventh in the three-meter, which gave him an overall ranking of 23rd in the state.

Finally, Heather Freed, another diver, took ninth and tenth in her competitions, which was not bad considering it was her first year on the team.

Coach Contarsy even achieved an award himself, being voted the conferences Coach of The Year for women's swimming.

As he said, "I'm glad that I was voted coach of the year but that's not the reason (he's glad); I want the athletes to get the recognition."

He added: "in the end I was rewarded because of their efforts."

He then described the kind of season that leads into such an impressive finish.

"You've got to look at the accomplishments, first time ever that the women have been undefeated 7-0. The women had not beaten Ventura College since 1997, I don't think they had ever beaten Cuesta and Ventura in the same season."

Then pointing out individual accomplishments of the season, he listed Zhang who was voted the Female Athlete of The Year for the conference, after she was involved in setting five conference records including the two medley relays mentioned earlier and three personal ones.

"We not only rewrote the conference record books, we rewrote the school records," said Contarsy.

"Most of the swims this year will be new school records. This is a historic season."

Describing the way in which a team must align in order to achieve such accomplishments was a point of pride for Contarsy who attributes his swimmers with being able to "bond, get together, train together, and put all of the hard work into the pool, and achieve great things."

He described the way in which swimmers on the team were accountable to one another in that "when you compete against each other as a team you can make each other swim faster."

Contarsy takes little credit for the season instead he said "with great athletes, you can have great swimming."