Sophomore swimmer Leslie Rodriguez qualified for the state championships in two events thanks to thrilling record-setting performances at the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Championship meet. Rodriguez placed first in the 50- and 100-yard backstroke events with blistering times of 28.9 seconds and 1:02. Rodriguez stands as the second aquatics student-athlete in school history to qualify for a state championship.
“She preformed remarkably well and made all of her coaches and teammates extremely proud,” said head coach Matt Ustaszewski. “She is also a first team all-conference water polo player.”
Rodriguez was stunned by the news.
“It’s exciting,” said Rodriguez. “I didn’t expect to qualify for state, it was exciting for me to know that I made it.”
Rodriguez will go down as one of the best swimmers in SWC annuls. She set five school records at the conference meet, holds 12 all-time SWC records and is also a star water polo player. Despite the thrill and acclaim of competitive swimming, Rodriguez insists water polo is her first love.
“I want to keep playing polo, but as for swimming I’m still debating,” said Rodriguez. “Right now I’m looking at SDSU and UCSD.”
SWC set 15 school records at the conference championship meets and it finally seemed as if the team’s hard work had finally come to fruition after years of rebuilding.
“The team performed remarkably,” said Ustaszewski. “Every swimmer set at least one personal best during the course of the meet and SWC had its highest finish in the four years that the program has competed in conference.”
Ustaszewski’s strategy of continually working the team through grueling practices every day, even on the eve of meets, hampered them throughout the season but paid off when it mattered. Rodriguez said the team’s practice regiment shaved down times and gave SWC a supremely-conditioned team at the conference championships.
“I think we did really well, people placed better than other years,” said Rodriguez. “We’ve never had the best team, but as a unit we performed well.”
Ustaszewski and assistant coach Juan Pablo Carrillo will have a veteran squad to build on next season.
“Overall it was a great performance and we are excited about improving upon this year’s results,” said Ustaszewski. “With only two women sophomores and three male sophomores, we are very excited about the group that we have coming back. We would feel better if we could somehow have our sophomores for one more season. Their effort and dedication will be greatly missed.”