PASO ROBLES — In their first home swim meet of the season, the Bearcats dominated the Pioneer Valley Panthers at all levels. The varsity boys won 85-15, the varsity girls won 86-15 and both JV teams won 47-10 and 54-31, respectively.
In three dual meets so far this season, the Bearcats boys and girls varsity are 2-1 with their lone loss coming at the hands of the San Luis Obispo Tigers in a very close, exciting meet. On March 9 Paso Robles faced St. Joseph and won by a substantial margin.
The Bearcats are led this season by senior swimmer Gavin Hughes, who swims the 200-meter and 500-meter freestyle while also anchoring the relays.
“Generally, I am better at that longer stuff just because I have been swimming for… this will be my ninth year in my competitive career,” Hughes said. “So I have been swimming for half my life. I am better at those endurance type events because I have a more established base of swimming under my belt.”
The senior is the team captain this year, an honor he says he has been waiting for.
“I have had a lot of great seniors who were captains before me,” Hughes said. “I have learned a lot from them over the years — just how to conduct myself on a team and how to pick up good leadership practices and things like that.”
Hughes said that he has been building up a repertoire of things on how to be a better leader and how to coordinate people as a group.
“I am really looking forward to stepping into that role and I have enjoyed it thus far leading cheers and stuff like that,” he said.
While the competition was not strong there were still Bearcats who shined. Abby Spring dropped 20 seconds off of her 200 Individual Medley time, Zach Tucker cut off a second in the 25-meter freestyle and Tyler Seidel dropped two seconds in his 100-meter fly.
Hughes’ younger sister Aubrey is also one of the fastest swimmers on the team and makes up part of their young relay team with Mackenzie Raymond, Gabby Clayton, and Kendall Moffitt.
“Our relays are really fast this year,” Raymond said. “So that is definitely exciting, especially looking to CIF and this is our last year in the Southern Section, so yeah, it is really exciting to see that we have a good shot.”
The Bearcats will be moving into the CIF Central Section next year, which is slower than the powerhouse that is the Southern Section and will be bringing their entire relay team. Moffitt is currently a freshman, Hughes and Clayton are both sophomore and Raymond is a junior.
That team, minus Moffitt, earned second team all-league last year and advanced to CIF. The move to a lower section has many Bearcat swimmers excited, especially Raymond who has spent the last two years having to deal with the speed along the coast.
“I have tried not to compare them [her times in the Southern Section compared to the Central Section] yet,” Raymond said. “Because I just want to get through this season before we start looking.”
Raymond admitted that once the season was over last year she compared her times and it made her very happy going forward.
The Bearcats swim team will take on the Greyhounds next on April 13 in Atascadero.