Patterson coach Lew Boyle said the team swam well Feb. 23 in the season opener against visiting Stone Ridge Christian High of Merced.
The Tiger boys defeated Stone Ridge, 87-72, while Patterson’s girls bested the Knights, 110-36.
“The win was a nice way to start the season,” Boyle said. “But when we get to our league meets, the teams will be much larger and deeper. Still, the win was satisfying.”
Mario Diaz-Keller (50-yard freestyle) earned praise from his coach after a strong showing in his Patterson debut.
The Tigers’ Garrett Funston swam a strong 100 butterfly, and Collin Morris produced a respectable 100 backstroke, Boyle said.
Brenda VanRiper, Heather Schaa, Brooke Garro and Kiara Job teamed up for a win for Patterson in the girls 200-yard medley relay.
Schaa and Job also turned in strong finishes in the 100 breaststroke and the 100 freestyle, Boyle said.
With Western Athletic Conference relays, duals and team races ahead, the Tigers are focused on getting to the other side faster each time they dive into the pool.
“Our early-season goal is to teach basic skills,” Boyle said. “We hope that every swimmer will swim a personal best at some time in the season.
“Our long-range goal is to provide each athlete an opportunity to maximize his or her athletic potential while competing fairly, honorably and respectfully.”
For the Tigers, however, many of last year’s standout swimmers were seniors.
Key losses include Lindsey Fidler and Rebecca Wolfe from the girls team and Rafa Sotelo and Kyle Johnson from the boys.
Patterson co-coach Lauren Cozart said the team will build up varsity experience again this season.
“Early-season focus is on conditioning and technique,” Cozart said. “We’ll get to race pacing and strategies later in the season.”
With the roster on the younger side and with limited senior newcomers, Cozart said that the team’s returning athletes — Funston, Morris, VanRiper, Helio Tejada, Garrett Murray, Sitka Boehmer and Beth Sonnefeld — will take on leadership duties.
“They will be expected to be role models for the younger kids,” Cozart said. “It’s critical for the older kids to show the younger ones how to conduct themselves at meets, in practice and in the classroom.”
It’s difficult to imagine a more challenging scenario for the upstart Tigers as they wade into a league chock-full of quality programs.
“With the exception of Livingston High, all teams enjoy an age-group ‘feeder’ team in their respective towns,” Boyle said. “Their kids, by and large, come to their teams with a knowledge of the training, skills and strategies necessary for success in swimming. Our kids, generally, do not have that experience.”
He said that the focus of this season will be to improve on the basics and to lay a foundation for future Tiger teams.
“We’ll measure successes in terms more oriented toward personal achievements, rather than wins and losses,” Boyle said.