For its first season, the swim team hit the pool and ended the season with a splash. The Lions went to the Pacific Coast Swim Conference Championship in Long Beach at the beginning of February 2011, where they swam their best. This was the last swim meet before Nationals.
With 32 swimmers on the team, the Lions competed for their last chance to make it to Nationals. It was at this meet the swim team needed to qualify for Nationals; the majority of the team ended up qualifying for different events at the Championship.
A large group of the Lions qualified individually for the first meet for Nationals, which was to be held in Missouri. Of these swimmers, there was freshman Sebastian Cordoba, who qualified for the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle races; junior David Buckalew in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle as well; freshman Joshua Roe in the 100 backstroke; 50, 100 and 200 freestyle, and sophomore Israel Perez in the 50 freestyle.
For the womens team, there were freshmen Samantha Hawkins and Cara Deckert, and junior Ektaa Nijjar. They all individually qualified and also qualified for the 200 and 400 medley relays.
The mens team qualified for relays as well. Of the eight, five started individually and three qualified for relays. These swimmers that started individually were freshman Kyle Kim-E, sophomore Joseph Sanders and sophomore Poonsak Zithisakthanakul. For the mens 200 freestyle relay, Roe, Perez, Buckalew, and Cordoba qualified. They all split 21 seconds in the relay.
In the end, the relay team won consultation, therefore taking ninth place , missing one spot from being in the top eight. However, this is the best Vanguard has done in means of ranks. In the mens 4 x 100 freestyle, the Lions took ninth place. They missed the top eight, but their times were pretty close. The team’s goal was to try and qualify and make it into the top eight.
The Lions were fourth in their first heat, but five teams beat them in the second heat, therefore, they ended up in ninth place. Fortunately for the Lions, the seventh place team ended up leaving the meet early, consequently earning them disqualification and bumping the Lions up into the top eight. The Lions’ 400 freestyle relay team had to come back on the last night for the last race of Nationals. The lane one relay team was half a second faster than the Lions, so they were going to have to work hard in order to pull off moving up a rank, which the men achieved.
“We all swam pretty well and we ended up getting seventh place. First time in VU history that we made top eight and we got seventh,” Buckalew said. “As a team, we united and that’s what helped us.”
Because of the performance by the Lions in that last relay, Vanguard ended up earning enough points to finish 13 out of 17 mens teams.
“It was a good time and that last relay was really the highlight of the trip. Getting lucky to make it in the top eight and then doing something with it was awesome,” Buckalew said.
As for season, the Lions truly ended it with a splash and have set the bar high for next season and all the swimmers on the team.