Boys and Girls Swimming: La Jolla High School Vikings
By Ed Piper
La Jolla High School swim sprinter Jorge Jimenez talks about the rush during the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races: “I love the adrenaline that goes through me in such a short amount of time. I enjoy doing the other strokes, as well, but I feel that I excel specifically in those sprint events.”
Jimenez, a senior captain and four-year member of the Vikings swim team, said Coach Tom Atwell’s workouts push team members close to the edge of their endurance: “His sets vary from easy to extremely difficult — to the point where people wish they hadn’t eaten lunch. We do dry-land exercises — push-ups, crunches, planks — a few times a week, which helps strengthen our swimming in so many different ways.”
The goal? Mastery. “He doesn’t believe in excuses, as anyone can reach their goal if they put their mind and dedication to it.”
Jimenez, who has reached the CIF Finals in past seasons as a result of Atwell’s demanding training, swam the 50-yard freestyle in 23 seconds and the 100-yard freestyle in 50 seconds in a recent dual meet against fellow league power Cathedral Catholic High, placing second and third, respectively, Atwell singled his captain out for great swims.
Jimenez also helped lead the Viking 4x50-yard freestyle relay team to a first. The meet came down to the 4x100-yard relay. La Jolla got out-touched by two-tenths of a second at the end, the first Viking boys dual meet loss in more than five years.
“We want to go through the rest of the dual meets successfully, and prepare for City Conference and CIF’s. La Jolla has a nine-year streak of winning City Conference. We are dedicated to help LJHS win its 10th year in a row,” said Jimenez.
Other swimmers who stood out at the home meet against Cathedral included senior captain Zach Wallace, who won the 200-yard intermediate medley and the 100-yard butterfly. Senior Westin Waldburger excelled in the freestyle sprints. Sophomores Alex Tete and Paul Hedlin, as well as freshmen Parker Seale and Dominick Wallace, were also spotlighted by their coach.
On the girls team, senior captain Cienna Miesfeld (in the breaststroke) and sophomore Sophia Eliopulos (in the backstroke) put out great efforts. “I have been working on improving my stroke technique and learning how to be more efficient in the water,” Eliopulos said. About team preparedness, she added, “Keeping loose can be hard, but we do our best by keeping our spirits up and, most importantly, trying to have fun. Even though swimming is an individual sport, we are a very unified team. We do our best to cheer on our teammates during racing, and help each other out. Relays bring out the team aspect in swimming, because you start to think about the race as a cumulative time, rather than just your own.”
Addison Seale and Ciara Franke are other key members of the girls’ team. Jackie Real placed first in diving versus Cathedral and competed in the CIF Finals at Mesa College last year. “Jackie is a really good diver,” said Scarlett Hallahan, who swam well in the 200-yard freestyle. “She’s a key person to have, because in close meets her scores usually put us over the edge to win the meet.”
Parker Seale swam well in the 100-yard breaststroke: “My main drive for that event was when I saw the guy who was swimming (Cathedral’s) 100-yard breaststroke who had been a competitor of mine since I was about 11 years old (Benjamin Bleichwel). As soon as I saw that I was racing against him, I knew it was going to be a good race, and all I was thinking going into it was that I had to win, no matter what.” Seale took first in 1:04.16.
He continued, “With the loss to Cathedral, I feel like it has given us more of a drive to become a better team. We are all talking about how we know that we have the potential to get the Western League title for our 10th time.”
Hallahan commented, “This year I’m mostly trying to concentrate on improving my stroke to get all personal best times by the end of the season. It’s surreal that this is the last high school sports season I’ll ever have, so I’m really trying to finish strong but also enjoy the company of my coaches and teammates for one final season.”
Jimenez revealed that he took up swimming as an 8-year-old to overcome his fear of water. “My mom put me in swim classes,” he said. At 12, he was a Junior Olympic champion. Besides being in the CIF Finals, he is a YMCA record-holder.