Things are definitely looking rosy for the Hollister High swim program.
For the last several years, numbers have been way down, especially for a school with the largest enrollment in the Central Coast Section and having one of the best swim facilities in the Bay Area. However, the roster size for both the boys and girls teams are up dramatically this year, with 45 girls and 23 boys split up among three total teams, a junior varsity and varsity for girls and a varsity only for boys.
Mamh Corrigan, a 2018 Hollister High graduate and the first-year boys coach, said he was one of just nine swimmers on the boys team his senior season, so the increased numbers are a welcome surprise.
“It’s really good to see aquatics getting back to what it used to be at this school before I was there,” Corrigan said. “I think we’re one of the bigger teams this year, which is new to me and really good to see.”
Both the boys and girls varsity teams are having similar success in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division, which includes Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Santa Catalina and Stevenson.
They swam against Monterey on March 9 and Pacific Grove on March 30 in duel meets and had a tri-meet with Salinas and Santa Catalina in between those duels. The boys team is led by Taylor Smith, Isaac Nordstrom, Isaac DeLong, Justin Blankenship, Mateo Rosales and John Borina, while the girls team is led by twins Coley and Maddie Corrigan, Chiara Dang and Lilia Royston.
Spenser Simmons is in her first season as the Hollister girls swim coach and loves being around the team members.
“I absolutely love coaching—it’s definitely my sweet spot,” she said. “For me the best part is watching the girls gain confidence in themselves and watching their eyes light up when they get a PR (personal-record) or working on stuff and seeing it blossom.”
Coley Corrigan excels in the backstroke and Maddie the breaststroke and 500-yard freestyle. They are also mainstays on the 200 yard free and 200 medley relay teams.
“Maddie and Coley are natural born leaders,” Simmons said. “They sacrifice and give a lot to make the team better. They’re very observant. If they see me needing help with something, they’ll step in and literally say, ‘We got you, coach.’ They’re the ideal captains, athletes you want as a coach. The girls look up to them and they’re making such a big impact in ways they don’t understand.”
Simmons also was effusive in her praise for Royston and Dang.
“Lilia is a bubble of sunshine wherever she goes,” Simmons said. “She’s super encouraging to the younger swimmers and to other teammates, loves to teach other girls how to dive, or how to do strokes better. And Chiara has a lot of natural talent and ability and is more on the quiet side in the athletic world. But when she swims and performs she makes waves, especially with her being a [butter] flier. That’s a hard stroke, but she does it gracefully.”
On the boys side, co-captains Smith and Blankenship have been posting fast times in their best events. Smith, a senior, has been dominant in the breaststroke while Blankenship, a sophomore, can swim a variety of events and distances.
“Justin has shown a lot of leadership in stepping up and showing the younger boys the technique and strokes,” Corrigan said. “He’s a jack of all trades and can fill in any event and get points for us.”
Rosales is just a 14-year-old freshman but already the fastest swimmer on the team.
“He has times [in club meets] that qualify for CCS; he just has to do it at a high school meet,” Corrigan said. “The kid is fast. He’s doing the 100 back and 100 fly a lot, and is really fast in all the different strokes. But we tend to put him in the more heavily contested stroke events, whereas the others can score points in the freestyle.”
Nordstrom swims the backstroke and DeLong the freestyle in the medley relay and Borina competes in the 500-yard free, the longest distance in high school swimming. Corrigan is elated to be in his first season as the Hollister boys swim coach.
“I figured to give back to the community and school which gave so much to me,” he said.
Corrigan pointed to the win over Salinas as one of the highlights of the season so far.
“It’s a great feeling to finally get one over on Salinas, which is something I never did as a swimmer,” he said.