Women’s swim team Coach Terry Stoddard has much to smile about. Despite the loss of 2010 SCC Women’s Diver of the Year, Merry Sanders, 2009 SCC 200 Free Relay Champion team member Jade Wilia as well as Cindy Huynh who transferred out, this year’s incoming freshman women swimmers promise to be strong contenders this spring. “There’s no doubt when you lose [Saunders, Wilia and Huynh], they leave a big imprint that the other girls have to fill. [However,] I feel these swimmers are up to the task,” Stoddard said.

Stoddard’s “blue chip” freshman players include sprint freestylers Michaela Velasquez, Julia Warden and Cynthia Martinez, as well as distance and freestyler Courtney Jensen.

The caveat: there are just 12 women swimmers versus the preferred number of 18 and, so far, it appears no one is ready to follow up on Sanders’s strong diving skills.

Despite that, Stoddard said, “I think this is our strongest women’s team. It’s the best group of [incoming swimmers] since our championship team in 2003.”

For the men’s team, the outlook is equally as impressive.

“Our guy’s team are contenders and we can go head-to-head against the other teams in conference,” said Stoddard.

This year’s team includes returning state champions Baldwin Ngai, Andrew Genov, Bryan Reznik, and Tabrek Seyssell, as well as defending state champion and 2010 PCC Athlete of the Year, Sharif Alaoui. Impact swimmer Enrique Flores and backstroker Christopher Kang add to the strong selection of sophomores.

“We actually have six state qualifiers returning to the men’s team this season,” Stoddard said.

This year’s list of freshmen to keep an eye on? Cario Liu, Flinn Crosby, Scott Wong, Ian Ford and Matt McPhillips boost Stoddard’s’ confidence.

Like the women’s team, the number of men’s swimmers is a concern of Stoddard’s, despite the fact they’ll be starting with 16 of the ideal number of 18 swimmers.

Stoddard pointed out opportunities for new swimmers are still available for the teams, as they can take up to 25 swimmers. Since the season starts during the winter session, they allow tryouts through the first week of the spring semester.

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