Deep Dive with the CSUB swimmers

Carlos Hernandez

Chris Burdick, Co-Sports Editor

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  The CSU Bakersfield women’s swimming team has made a huge splash in their final season in the Western Athletic Conference and are on the brink of something truly special. 

  “Coming in as a freshman, you’re always hearing about the great classes before us and all the girls before us and how great they were,” senior swimmer Jayssie Haynes said. “In my freshman year, we were a really young team, so we had to build up to be these great women, these great leaders. And now we have these new freshmen, and they are amazing and talented and it’s great to see.” 

  One of the young standouts of the year has been freshman Mikayla Popham. A late addition to the Roadrunners recruitment radar, Popham comes to CSUB from Unity College in Caolundra, Australia where she was an Australian National Medalist for 17- and 18-year olds competing in the 50- and 400-meter freestyle, as well as the 200- and 400-meter individual medley. 

  Popham currently sits 2nd on the team with 14 individual wins this year, has already set herself at second on the CSUB record board for fastest time in the 50- and 500-meter freestyles, and has recorded the fastest times in the WAC this season for the 100-, 200-, and 500-meter freestyle events as well. 

  The biggest standout athlete this year for the Roadrunners has been sophomore Autumn D’Arcy. D’Arcy currently holds the fastest time in the nation for the 50-meter fly event at 23.78 seconds, and is number 29 in the nation for the 100-meter butterfly. D’Arcy has also done something that no other CSUB women’s swimmer has ever done, as she has qualified for Olympic trials for her age group in the 100-meter butterfly stroke event. 

  D’Arcy currently sits tied with Paola Hernandez for most single season victories in CSUB history, with 23 wins so far on the year, and should break that record at the WAC tournament.  

  “I’m excited,” D’Arcy said. “Paola is a great swimmer, so it’s great to follow in her footsteps.” D’Arcy admits that breaking the CSUB single season win record wasn’t on her mind when the season began, but she is excited about the success and is just trying to do her best for the team. 

  Both D’Arcy and Popham have been selected by the WAC for Swimmer of the Week honors three times this year. Both said that being nominated for the award was an honor in itself, but that seeing others from their team nominated as well was the most exciting. 

  The swim team has seen its share of talent come and go in the past few years, but this year, the team’s depth is what has allowed them to reach this level. 

  “When I took over the women, I think seven years ago, we had to do a lot of changing, and depth was one of them,” Director Chris Hansen said. “It’s taken a while, but it’s nice to get a whole team scoring rather than just a handful.” 

  Hansen also credits the leadership of the team’s seniors for “keeping the team together” and creating a good chemistry in the locker room. 

  “When we first took over the program, the Mikayla Paiges, the Paola Hernandezs, the Carlee Burks; we really thought that that generation was gonna break the doors down, and it really didn’t to be honest with you,” Hansen said. “The women in California were a little nervous coming to Cal State Bakersfield. That door has [now] been broken, and I would say Jaysee is probably a giant reason why that door is broken.”  

  When talking about how the team feels with the WAC championships coming up, Haynes said that the team wasn’t quite ready just yet, but that they will be ready to compete when the time comes. Hansen, however, seemed confident that the CSUB women’s team can shock some doubters in this year’s tournament. 

  “It’s our last WAC, so we definitely want to leave on a high note,” Hansen said. “Not making any predictions, but I think there’s a good possibility the women will be in the top 3 and will have many champions.” 

  Hansen also believes that CSUB women’s swim will be represented at the NCAA championships for the first time ever this year. 

  D’Arcy, Popham, and Haynes believe they will be ready to lead the Roadrunners to the WAC tournament when the time comes. The tournament is scheduled to begin on Feb. 26 in Houston, Texas.