Nathan Roodzant and Alex Castro have something in common that sets them apart from every other Kern County boys high school swimmer that competed this season.
The two 2019 graduates, Roodzant from Bakersfield Christian and Castro from Centennial were the only local boys swimmers to qualify for the CIF State Swimming Championships.
Roodzant and Castro, the BVarsity All-Area Co-Boys Swimmers of the Year, both capped off their final year of prep swimming in spectacular fashion.
Roodzant won three Division II first place medals (two individual and one relay) at the Central Section Championships. His second place finish overall in the 200 IM earned him a berth in the state meet for the second straight year. Last year Roodzant qualified for state in the 100 backstroke.
Roodzant’s 200 IM finals time of 1:53.89 broke the Central Section D-II record for the event.
“Nathan always has his sights on a specific goal,” BCHS coach Jacob Montecino said. “He is one of the most driven athletes I’ve ever met. He breaks everything down into parts and he figures out what steps he needs to take to achieve that goal… He’s also very aware of his technique and he’s constantly experimenting with ways to approach the stroke and finding out new styles in order to get the best results.”
Castro punched his ticket to the state championships by posting an automatic qualifying time of 20.99 seconds in taking third place at the section championships in Fresno.
Looking up at the scoreboard and seeing that he qualified for state provided the most thrilling moment of the year for the Golden Hawks standout.
“I was just really, really excited,” Castro said. “I felt like I was on top of the world,”
Castro, voted a Centennial team captain by his teammates the past two years, also medaled in the 100 breaststroke, placing fifth in the event.
“He’s a natural athlete and a good, hard worker that applied himself well,” Centennial coach David Graves said. “As he built confidence, he became more competitive…As he built his confidence over the fours years (of high school) he just got better and better and better.”
Roodzant, who graduated from BCHS with a 4.52 grade point average, plans on competing this coming year for the U.S. Naval Academy as a walk-on. He was appointed to Naval Academy by local United State Representative Kevin McCarthy.
Achieving that prestigious honor fulfilled a long-time aspiration of Roodzant.
His swimming goals for this past year were to make state in both of his individual events and to perform well at the state meet.
He narrowly missed out on being a double state qualifier, finishing third overall in the 100 backstroke, one spot lower than he needed. However, that didn’t deter from an outstanding senior season in which he won three league and three section gold medals.
“I’m really happy with how well I did and the things I accomplished this year,” Roodzant said. “I had a ton of fun with my team. More than I’ve had the last couple of years. Because I’ve been on a club team I haven’t gone to as many high school practices. That makes it a lot harder to connect with a high school team. But my (BCHS) team is a super great bunch of kids.”
Castro was the only local swimmer that went to state who made it to a consolation final. He finished in 16th place in the 50 free at the state meet. In the process he set a new Centennial record in the event with a time of 20.92 seconds.
A few weeks earlier Castro won a pair of gold medals at the league championship meet.
“I was really happy with my senior year,” Castro said. “I was looking forward to going to state the whole year. That was my main goal. When I got there, I was just kind of hoping to improve my times and see what happens. Making it to finals the second day was just an added bonus.”
Castro, graduated from Centennial with a 4.47 GPA. He plans on attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo this fall with his sights set on earning a degree in electrical engineering. A devout Christian, Castro credits the support of his family and God for helping him achieve success in and out of the pool.
Choosing to concentrate on his studies, Castro doesn’t plan on trying to swim competitively for Mustangs. However, He will participate in club swimming at the school.