Sierra swimmers strive to survive

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Molly Swartz’s collection of medals is growing. The Sierra College sophomore earned two more last Saturday by winning the 1- and 3-meter events at the Northern California diving championships. Her success on the 1-meter board did not come as a surprise. She is the defending state champion in the 1-meter competition, but the Northern California title in the event was the first for Swartz. Former teammate Jodie Darnell swept the diving events at the 2010 Northern California meet. Swartz then pulled a surprise at the state championships by defeating Darnell in the 1-meter event. Darnell placed second and Swartz was third in the 3-meter competition. Swartz will have an opportunity for her own sweep when the state meet begins April 8 at East Los Angeles City College. “She’s a total competitor,” Sierra coach Chris Breitbart said of Swartz. “She rises to the occasion.” Joining Swartz in Los Angeles will be sophomore Sean Russick, who is going to the state meet for the first time after placing second in the 3-meter board last Saturday. The Northern California meet was also the Big 8 Conference championships for divers. Russick won the Big 8 title. The top six finishers in the men’s and women’s diving events qualified for the state meet. Sierra will send more than two divers to the state meet. The swimmers will seek to qualify when the Big 8 championships begin today at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. The meet runs through Saturday. The best bets for Sierra’s men are sophomores Dylan Munson, Josh Collison and Nolan Bethley. Munson and Bethley hold Sierra’s records in the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly, respectively. Breitbart has high hopes for Munson, who has posted a time of 21.1 seconds this season. Collison will swim in the 200 and 500 freestyle races. Collison and Munson are Oakmont High School graduates. Bethley hails from Rio Americano High. Swartz came to Sierra from Nevada Union High, which has also produced one of Sierra’s top swimmers on the women’s side. Sophomore Justina Dunne will compete in the 50 and 100 backstroke. Swimmers will have no idea whether they have qualified for the state meet at the end of the Big 8 championships. Times posted by swimmers at their respective conference meets across the state will be compiled and the 16 fastest in each event will qualify. Swimmers can compete in as many as three individual events.