Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The Madera Coyote girls swimming and diving team earned the school’s first swimming Valley Championship, capturing the Div. II title on May 13 at East High School in Bakersfield. The Coyotes defeated Kingsburg by more than 80 points for the title.
With about four races left to go in the Div. II swimming Valley Championships at East High School in Bakersfield, Madera Coyotes girls swimming coach Erik Baymiller knew his team wrapped up the school’s first swimming Valley Championship.
“I knew we had it won during the 100 backstroke,” Baymiller said. “I was keeping points all the way through. The 200 free relay, Kingsburg dropped to third and we took first and that was a huge points change.”
All that was left was the formal announcement and the traditional “getting thrown into the pool.”
“We do a lot of time breakdowns,” Baymiller said. “I checked last year’s times and compared them with the Clovis West Invitational times to see where everyone was at and put them with who I knew would swim for us. It looked good for us the entire season. It was just getting the girls to that point. During the season, the girls were slow because I was killing them in practice. We didn’t see a lot of results until the end of the season. They started beating personal records. It makes you nervous. If you get those personal record times throughout the season, it’s good. We were getting times that were right there. I was worried, but we sped up substantially.
The Coyotes finished the meet with 312 points, defeating Kingsburg by 86 points (238) and almost doubling third place Wasco’s points.
“I teared up a little bit,” Baymiller said. “It was so much stress. We almost got disqualified in our first swim at the valleys. It was very nerve racking during those relays. When it was finally over, all that stress went off.”
The points barrage came early for the Coyotes with 31 from the diving team. Junior Bailey Toney placed fourth while freshmen Jocelyn Jones placed seventh and Ally Barriga was 14th. Sophomore Genevieve Laird was 15th.
“All the credit goes to coach Lisa Bennett for getting her divers ready with very little time and a lot of pressure,” Baymiller said. “She has been coaching diving at Madera for 20-plus years and is extremaly valuable to this program.”
Baymiller sent four freshmen to race in the 200-medley relay and the team placed second by .13 seconds. The team of Nicole McCann, Tara Goertzen, Selynna Rosales and Lola Gill broke the school record by almost seven seconds touching the wall at 1:52.31.
Goertzen came back to win the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:58.64. Emily Lopez placed fifth and senior Jessica Diaz placed eighth.
“Tara Goertzen stepped up,” Baymiller said. “She’s our little rocket. She’s our freshman breaststroker. We had five freshmem come in and they were super fast. Nicole McCann had a fantastic meet. She does the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke, which are almost back-to-back. She dropped 15 seconds in her 500 preliminary time. She dropped six seconds off her personal record.”
Ceaira Chavira was originally seeded 24th in the 200 individual medley and came away with an 11th place finish. Goertzen added points with a 13th place finish in the 50 freestyle.
Rosales placed sixth in the 100 butterfly and Lopez was seventh in an important race.
“Kingsburg and Wasco didn’t have any butterflyers so this was an extremely important race,” Baymiller said.
Gill placed seventh in the 100 freestyle while McCann was 10th and Goertzen was 11th.
“This was one of Kingsburg’s strongest events and these girls offset a lot of their points,” Baymiller said.
McCann dropped 15 seconds off her personal record to place seventh. Diaz stepped up with her best time of the year to place eighth overall in the 500 freestyle.
The 200 freestyle relay team of Gill, Rosales, Lopez and Goertzen had the best swim of the day for the Coyotes. They won the race by .20 seconds in a school record time of 1:43.12.
The race was back-and-fourth in the first three legs. Goertzen went against Wasco’s Abigail Abshire, the 50 freestyle winner. Goertzen caught Abshire at the wall and passed her with the best freestyle flip turn Baymiller has seen. Abshire closed the gap and touched the wall together, but Madera came out on top.
Gill came back to place sixth in the 100 backstroke while McCann dropped almost two seconds from her preliminary time to placed third.
Goertzen set a personal record in the 100 breaststroke, but placed second.
In the final race of the day, the 400 freestyle relay team of Lopez, Alexis Gibs, Emily Goertzen and Diaz dropped more than five seconds from the preliminary time to place second.
“This has a lot to do with the Madera Unified aquatics program developed a couple of years ago,” Baymiller said. “We are seeing the dividends of that.”