Swimmer continues Concordia pipeline
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera Coyote swimmer/water polo player Garrin Hatfield smiles with his parents Barbara and Kevin before signing his National Letter of Intent to swim at Concordia University.
By signing a National Letter of Intent to swim at Concordia University, Madera record setter Garrin Hatfield follows two former Madera players to the school.
Former Coyote coach, swimmer and water polo playerRyan Martines is swimming at Concordia, as well as former County/Metro Athletic Conference Most Valuable Water Polo Player Austin Wade.
“I actually had no clue Ryan Martines was going there,” Hatfield said. “I already got my offer from the coach. In the back of my mind, I really wanted to go to this school. I learned Austin and Ryan were going, but I really wanted to go.”
Although Hatfield played water polo and swam at Madera, he will just swim with the Eagles. He plans to swim the individual medley and 200 butterfly.
“I’m not sure how many events I could swim in college,” he said. “If I’m able to do a third event, it’s the 500 freestyle. It’s really nice to specialize in a few things. Before, I didn’t get a chance to specialize and had to work on everything.”
Hatfield had his choice of Saginaw Valley State University and a school in West Virginia, but chose to stay in the state.
“The ultimate decision was because it was close to home and I could see my family,” he said. “I didn’t have to worry about getting a plane ticket to go back home. They aren’t too far away. I feel if I would have been out of state, it would have been too far. In state, depending where the meet is, they can go to that. I don’t have to worry about them not seeing me swim anymore.”
Hatfield graduated with a 3.8 grade point average and plans to major in psychology with an emphasis in behavioral studies.
Hatfield said he was grateful to not only sign with a school, but to get a senior season of water polo and swim.
“I was grateful to get my senior season in, but it was weird,” he said. “I was so used to having water polo in the fall and having a longer season. It was kind of crammed in. The length of both seasons was how long one would be.”
Rather than get in the pool to get ready for the water polo season, last year, Hatfield wasn’t sure if or when his season(s) would start. He had to find ways to get himself ready for the season when it would start.
“It was more like what do I do now when COVID hit,” he said. “Nothing was really open so I didn’t have a chance to get in the water. I ran, but it’s not the same thing as in the water. I ran to get that feeling. I did little workouts here and there to stay in shape.”
Although Hatfield and the rest of Coyote aquatics got both seasons in, albeit, a shortened season, it was different. The Coyotes had about a month of swim season, then switched to water polo for about a month and then competed in the swimming postseason, where the Coyotes excelled.
“That is two different mentalities,” Hatfield said. “Swim isn’t team oriented and water polo is. I didn’t have to worry about letting down the team in swimming. You go to water polo and it’s very team-oriented.
“It felt really good to have senior night. We didn’t think we were going to get that. Senior year, our swim season got cut short and there was talks there wasn’t going to be a senior night. To have a senior night, it was a good feeling.”
Hatfield’s medley relay team not only captured the Div. II Central Section championship, but they also broke a 27-year-old record in the process.
“I swam the backstroke on the medley relay to break the school record,” he said. “Our goal going into the season was to break the school record. The coaches have been doing the math and told us we had a chance to win the Valley. Not that I had doubts of our team, previously, we went to Valleys and we played ninth or 10th. It wasn’t too close. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Our placings for the prelims came out and all our guys could place. We actually have a chance at Valleys. We could do this. Our medley relay team was seeded third. We came out of prelims in first. We said we have to come back big. I told the guys I wanted the record. Then, I didn’t care about the record, I just wanted to win this event. Let’s all get at least one gold medal today. We not only won the event, but broke the record. It was a great feeling. It felt so good to break a record that old.”
The Coyotes used the momentum from the record-breaking swim to challenge for the championship, but ended up just one point out of the runner-up spot.
“To be top three in the valley felt good,” he said.
Hatfield recently celebrated his singing with seven other seniors who signed NLI’s to other schools in Joe Flores Gym.
“It was really nice to have the signing ceremony,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. When I was a freshman, I saw it during PE. I didn’t even know what a signing was. I learned what it was and I said I wanted that. Everything got canceled and I thought I wouldn’t get it. Then, it happened and then I get my own signing. It was amazing and great.”
Hatfield is ready for the next chapter after a record-breaking high school chapter.
“I think there might be little trips this summer, but it’s more about getting ready for college,” he said.