For San Benito High swimming coaches Eric Taylor and Chelsea Marquez, the joy in coaching comes in seeing their athletes improve, learn life lessons and have fun in the process.
To that end, Marquez and Taylor are thoroughly enjoying their time working together as the Haybalers’ coaches. Many people know Taylor as the San Benito County Sheriff, but coaching the San Benito High boys swim team has given him a different type of fulfillment compared to working in law enforcement.
Taylor praised the efforts and performances of Isaac DeLong, Taylor Smith, Isaac Nordstrom, Kyle Yamanishi, Alejandro Manzo, Samuel Bocanegra and John Borina. DeLong and Borina swim the 500 freestyle, the longest distance at the high school level.
“A lot of kids are afraid to swim the 500 free, but those two kids take it on all the time and do really well,” Taylor said. “Isaac DeLong is eccentric and a fantastic swimmer. He probably doesn’t understand just how good he is. But he tells me all the time, ‘Just put me in to win coach.’”
Co-captains Smith and Yamanishi have posted fast times and have displayed tremendous leadership.
“They keep all the boys up to speed when their event is coming up so we never have people waiting on the blocks,” Taylor said. “They do a really good job of keeping everything flowing during the meets.”
Manzo swims the backstroke, Nordstrom is perhaps the team’s best all-around swimmer and Bocanegra epitomizes the team’s work ethic.
“Samuel shows up every morning, works really hard in practice and has improved a ton,” Taylor said.
There are only 14 swimmers on the boys team, and everyone within the program hopes that number rises just like the girls team has this season. Marquez was ecstatic with the 50 girls who tried out. The roster is now at 38, still the largest number of girls on the team in a couple of years.
“Things are going well,” said Marquez, who is in her first season as the girls coach. “We’ve got a lot of people new to swimming, but they’re learning a lot.”
Just like they did for the girls water polo team last fall, captains Maddie and Coley Corrigan are stalwarts on the swim team. They both compete in a variety of events, and Maddie’s best event is the breaststroke.
“They’re a big asset to the team and helping out with a lot of the younger girls who are new to the sport,” Marquez said.
Water polo and wrestling standout Meaghan Ricker swims the 50 free, 200 free and 100 backstroke, and Chiara Dang excels in the freestyle events and 200 individual medley. Lilia Royston is also another versatile swimmer who does well in multiple events. Marquez said one of her key goals was to build strong team chemistry.
“We’re trying to cultivate that team environment again and give the girls an opportunity to grow as a team,” she said. “There’s a lot of different personalities on this team so it makes for really fun practices. I know these last two years have been rocky with Covid, so it’s nice to have an actual full season again because it’s a lot of fun.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]