MCHS Swim team wins Oak League title (Photo: Coach Katie-Lauren Dunbar)
by Katrina Gorauskas, staff writer
With little recognition, the Maria Carrillo High School swim team has created its own community of athletes both in and out of the pool. Offered during the spring sports season, the co-ed MCHS swim team is a welcoming sport with a fun dynamic in addition to its intense practices.
Carrillo’s team is 42 athletes strong, and currently the boys and girls Oak League Champions. The Pumas continue to improve under the coaching of Katie-Lauren Dunbar and Mindy Bushy. “I think [winning the league title] is really exciting because all of the swimmers have put in a lot of work this year, especially coming off of last year where it was COVID times and meets were not normal. We had a smaller team so this year we were able to have a normal season and get everyone out there and everyone got to be involved. It was exciting because they deserved this and have put in a lot of work this season,” said Dunbar.
The swim team practices at Finley on Tuesdays and Thursdays right after school, and practice times vary on other weekdays. The daily swim practices not only promote team bonding, but the training led to league victory. Swim meets are either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the week, and typically the meets go from 2:30-4:30 p.m. MCHS hosts their home meets at Finley and Santa Rosa High School and Ukiah High School have their own pools. League meets are dual meets against each school separately, but North Bay League meets are larger with all of the schools in the league.
Dunbar is an MCHS Alumni, and this is her second year coaching at MCHS. She swam all four years of high school and also swam for the Neptunes, the local competitive club team. After high school, she competed for Lewis and Clark College. “I have always loved the community around swimming and meeting new people. I loved that it was a team sport, but also very individual. When I had the opportunity to coach at Carrillo I was really excited about it because: number one I love swimming. I have been doing it my whole life; number two I went to Carrillo so it was nostalgic; and number three it is really exciting for me to be able to give other students the opportunity to be on an amazing team where you get to have teamwork and be on a team sport, but you also get that individual aspect of your times are your times and no one else’s and you get to work on yourself,” said Dunbar.
Practices will look different whether someone is on JV or varsity and Dunbar tries to switch things up a lot in order to help her team succeed and make practices fun. There is never a “typical day” at swimming, but every day will include some type of warm up followed by a workout then a cool down. Dunbar said, “Every Friday is ‘fun Friday,’ so they always include games or some sort of team building activity. “We also do ‘Team Building Tuesdays’ whether that is a mock meet or peer coaching,” Dunbar added.
Whether an athlete is on JV or Varsity, everyone gets to swim some type of event. The difference between JV and varsity is not just about times, but also dedication, passion and commitment to the team, says Dunbar.
I love Carrillo swim because it is a really fun energy and different environment.
Alli Krilich, a sophomore at MCHS, started swimming her freshman year and competes on both the MCHS and Neptunes teams. Depending on the meet, Krilich “pretty constantly [does] the 200m freestyle [which is her favorite], the 200m medley relay, and occasionally the 500m or freestyle relay.” Krillich says her favorite part about swimming is that it is a team sport but also emphasizes self-improvement and getting better. “I love Carrillo swim because it is a really fun energy and different environment than the Neptunes, a lot more fun and less intense than [Neptunes]. [MCHS] is more focused on swimming with your friends and having a blast,” Krillich added. Krilich, commenting on her favorite MCHS swimming memory, said, “My first time swimming for MCHS, I did the 500m, and every time I got to the other side of the pool where you turn, the whole team was there cheering for me, and that was just really fun, especially the way we all support each other during our events. Overall, the swim team is really fun, and you should join.”
Riya Pravin, a junior at MCHS, has been on the swim team for three years, and started swimming her freshman year. “I have always loved swimming, and freshman year I found out we had a swim team, soI decided to join for fun and to try it out. I loved it, so I continued,” Pravin said. Pravin’s main event is the 100m breaststroke, and she also swims the 200m medley relay, the 4x100m freestyle, the 200m freestyle and 100m freestyle. Her coach likes to mix the athletes around to get them used to different events. “My favorite part about swimming is that I just love being in the water, and swimming is a big passion of mine. Plus, I have made a lot of friends since I have joined swimming and we all are a big community that comes together five days a week and swim together. I also really like that on Fridays we do ‘fun day Fridays’, and we do not practice or swim we just do games. Last week we did sharks and minnows and a cannonball competition to see who can splash the coach the most. Our coach likes to mix up practices, so we are not just swimming laps, and we do fun activities throughout the week,” Pravin added.
Dunbar’s favorite part about coaching the awesome team is just “watching everyone grow.” She said, “[It] is a huge thing that makes me enjoy coaching and another thing is just seeing the teamwork and everyone having fun together. Especially on ‘Fun Fridays’…they are some of my most memorable moments just seeing everyone be goofy and unwind.”
Pravin concluded, “I know swimming is pretty unknown at our school, but swim meets are a lot of fun, and they get really competitive… people should definitely come check it out.”