YHS swim team seniors discuss past, present, future; hope to prolong careers at CBL finals

YHS swim team seniors Serene Hagey, Sarah Lingenfelter, Gerald Griffin, Alyssa Flake, Jonah Wolf and Nick Lindsey.

After the Yucaipa High School boys and the girls swim teams lost their Citrus Belt League finales last Thursday to Citrus Valley High School, the competition for postseason individual play begins. The girls finished 2-3 in CBL. The boys 1-4. First-year YHS coach Becca Harp says thus far, only freshman Alyssa Nunez, who swims the 100-yard butterfly, is considered a CIF-qualifier.

However, there will be one last chance for most of Yucaipa’s nine seniors. On April 26, the CBL finals will be held at Crafton Hills College Aquatics Center. No matter the outcome, the nine seniors did say they are prepared for the next chapter in life. At the meet with Citrus Valley, the soon to graduate Thunderbirds were honored poolside on Senior Night. Except for friends and family, there was little fanfare.

“No. We don’t get the recognition of other sports and that pushes us to do better,” said senior Serene Hagey, who set a personal record against Citrus Valley by swimming the 50-yard breaststroke in 35 seconds. Teammate Gabriel Torres admitted that getting no news coverage has bothered him.

“Swimming is rigorous. Getting to practice at 5:30 a.m. is hard core. No publicity.” 

Sarah Lingenfelter is a four-year varsity performer sweating out her chances of becoming a CIF-qualifier for a fourth time. Lingenfelter has been a consistent 500-yard freestyle, top-3 finisher but few reports of her achievements are available.

“Baseball, football, and other sports get notoriety. Swimmers are humble students who quietly learn to persevere,” says Lingenfelter. She was quick to add that swimming enabled her to earn a scholarship to Western Colorado University where she will study math and art

Lingenfelter’s colleague Izmyel Vasquez simply stated, “I’ve won some and lost some but made good friendships and have become more disciplined as I get ready for the real world.”

Vasquez will enter the Army's ROTC program at Northern Arizona University. He will earn a business management degree with long range plans to work at the international level.

Likewise with teammate Alyssa Flake who stated she is looking forward to moving to New Jersey in the fall where she will attend Ryder University on a dean’s scholarship. Flake's plan then call for transferring to nearby Princeton University where she will study law “so that I can help others.”

Much the same for four-year varsity competitor Gerald Griffin who will travel to Goucher University in Towson, Md., to swim and run cross country on scholarship. Griffin has finished near the top of the leaderboards in both sports. In the past, Griffin has been noted as an Iron Man swim competitor with meets held in the Pacific Ocean.

Unlike most senior teammates, Jonah Wolf will no longer be swimming. After serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Wolf will attend Brigham Young University and hopes to study music. His goal is to perform at the Disney Arts Center.

“I was one of the worse swimmers on the team when I began last year. By the end of the season I was faster than many on the varsity and was able to win league matches in the 100-yard butterfly.”

Senior Serene Hagey agreed that she will graduate with lessons learned. Hagey will go to UCR on academic scholarship and plans to become an orthopedic surgeon. “No matter what I do, I will never forget the 5:30 a.m. practices. Never.” She looked at Lingenfelter and both said, “We suffered together.”

Harp tells her team: “If you get one thing out of this program. Learn to be a good member of the community.”

Harp is a YHS grad and was a member of Brian White's 2009 CBL championship water polo team. She graduated from Cal Baptist where she was on that school’s softball and water polo teams. Harp was head coach for two years at Riverside Notre Dame High School and assisted at YHS before accepting the head coach position.

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