Liberty swim coach Marc Urmston made a plea to his girls team a couple weeks ago.
Dominating the Southwest Yosemite League for the better part of the last four years, Urmston was worried about the team peaking too soon this late into one of the top seasons for a girls swim team in recent Kern County history.
“I felt that two weeks ago, they hit a plateau,” Urmston said. “We had a chat about setting goals higher. This is a life test. You need to continue to push. They are starting to motivate themselves. That’s unique.”
So when it came time for the Kern County league swimming championships at Garces on Saturday, Urmston’s fears began to dissipate with each meet record broken by his swimmers.
The day started off in record-setting fashion for the Patriots, who won all five Southwest Yosemite League dual meets by a minimum of 70 points, scoring 564 points on Saturday. It was 244 points ahead of second place finisher Stockdale, with 320 points.
In the SWYL girls 200 medley relay, the Liberty foursome of sophomore Emma McMurray, senior Eliana Klubnikin, junior Slaytynn Simpson and junior Payton Lewis shattered the meet record by three seconds in 1:49.57. The Patriots broke their year-old record from 2018.
Simpson also broke the meet record in the girls 100 fly in 57.21 while McMurray finished second in 59.00. Previous record of 58.04 set by Frontier's Ariana Skeggs in 2016.
Simpson says a day like this is exciting because there is so much at stake over the next two weeks as a team.
“It’s a lot better because it brings us closer together as a team,” Simpson said. “It’s more exciting when everyone is excited rather than just yourself. It’s better to win as a team.”
The next goal for the Patriots is one that has never been done by a local program. Urmston knows beating Clovis West, winners of the past 26 Central Section girls swimming championships, is difficult. But coming in second, which no Kern County team has done since Bakerfield High finished second in 2000, is a legitimate goal for the Patriots next weekend.
“Our goal is to go there and get a plaque,” Urmston said. “We don’t always want to get excited about a runners-up plaque, but that’s our goal here.”
The Patriots set another meet record in the girls 200 free relay in 1:40.23. The foursome of Simpson, McMurray, Klubnikin and Joselle Sortijas bested the previous record set in 2016 by Frontier.
The Patriots won Saturday without the services of one of their top swimmers, Sydney Yasukochi, who is in Colorado this weekend at a leadership conference, but will return for the section meet next weekend at Clovis West.
Roodzant breaks two meet records
Bakersfield Christian senior Nathan Roodzant knows next weekend at the section finals is where he will get his moment to shine in the pool. But this week was dedicated to helping the Eagles vie for a South Yosemite League team title.
“This is where swimming is a team sport and not an individual sport,” Roodzant said.
Roodzant did all he could to help the Eagles win the SYL title, breaking two individual meet records.
Roodzant broke the meet record in the boys 200IM in 1:56.10. Former record set in 2013 by Andrew Hargis from Centennial (1:56.19).
Roodzant also broke the boys 100 fly, finishes in a time of 51.94. Previous record set in 2018 by Garces' Eric Klang (53.11). Klang swam an 54.14 for second place and tops in SWYL.
Neither time was a personal-best for Roodzant, but he knows his best is still to come.
“I am really excited for Valley because that’s where I can really showcase my best,” Roodzant said. “I’ll be shaved once I get there and fully tapered and ready to go. Plus, I’ll get great competition, even more so than here all of the Clovis swimmers are there. That really helps me to push harder.”
The Eagles won the SYL team title, edging Tehachapi 478-446 as Jared Vegas helped lead the way for BCHS with titles in the 100 free (48.21) and the 100 back (55.07).
•Independence freshman Paige Taber set a new meet record in the girls 100 backstroke. Her time of 58.01 broke the record set by Stockdale’s Tatum Collatz of 59.63 set in 2015. Collatz is a senior on the swim team at Cal State Bakersfield. Taber also won the girls 100 free in 53.20.
•Centennial's Alex Castro also broke a meet record in the boys 50 free in 21.29. Previous record set last year by his former teammate Esteban Robles (21.87). It's also just .12 of a second from state automatic qualifying.
Castro also broke the meet record in the 100 back in 58.88, breaking his own record of 59.19 set last season.
•Wasco swept the boys and girls SSL team titles as Independence edged out Tehachapi 493-439 as the two are co-champions in the SYL alongside BCHS.
•Highland won the boys SEYL team title as North won the league girls title.
•The tightest league race came in the SWYL boys as Garces edged Liberty 392-382. The two share the league championship. Centennial finished third with 368 points, followed closely by Stockdale (352).