Campolindo High’s boys swimming team will be going for a record-tying sixth straight North Coast Section team title next month, so it might come as a surprise that the Cougars haven’t won an individual or relay event at the meet the last three years.
The Cougars instead pile up team points with incredible depth and have relay teams (worth double points) that consistently place in the top five.
At least that has been the strategy. This year there might be some individual stars, too.
The Cougars hope the graduation of a large senior class can be offset with a promising cast of underclassmen. Leading the way are Sven Campbell and Steven Stumph, two of the fastest freshmen in the country, according to Campolindo coach Ron Heidary.
“Surprisingly we’re better this year than last … I’d say it’s the most talented men’s team we’ve had since I’ve been at Campo,” said Heidary, who has been coaching the Cougars for 16 years. “It’s a really special group. We’re fortunate.”
Campbell took home first place in the 100 freestyle and second in the 100 backstroke at the prestigious Mission Viejo Invitational in March, a meet that that attracts some of the top teams from the state, particularly the swimming hotbed of Southern California. Stumph was third in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM.
Campolindo also has a talented sophomore in Robbie Ashby, who was a finalist in two NCS events last year, while junior Jeff Strausser was a finalist in the 100 butterfly.
Meanwhile, the Campolindo girls team, which won four consecutive NCS titles from 2000-2004 but has been shut out since, kicked off the season with a team title at Mission Viejo. And the Cougars didn’t just win, they won going away, outdistancing second-place Mission Viejo 374.5 to 310.
The Cougars used their tried-and-true strategy, finishing with numerous placers but just one individual event victory – the 200 medley relay. Padon Sivesind, Lindsey Mascheroni, Courtney Whyte and Alex Toohey combined for the win.
So what are the chances the Cougars can become the first program since 1987 to win both the boys and girls titles in the same year? Heidary admits it will be a challenge, but both teams will find out plenty about themselves at this weekend’s Palo Alto Invitational. The meet features the top five teams from last season’s NCS and Central Coast Section meets.
Campolindo swimmers who have already posted automatic-qualifying times for NCS:
Rachel Cleak – 100 free
Andrea Ward – 200 IM
Sven Campbell – 100 free, 100 back
Robbie Ashby – 100 free, 200 free
Steven Stumph – 100 breast, 200 IM
Jeff Strausser – 100 fly, 200 IM