CSUB swim strives to bring home gold in their final WAC tournament

Mari Woodmansee and Carlos Hernandez

Chris Burdick, Sports Co-Editor

  The CSU Bakersfield swimming teams have had one of their most successful seasons in program history. Setting numerous records and taking on the nation’s top competition, the team has held nothing back in their pursuit of gold this year.  

  Junior swimmer Loren Gillilan said, “It’s the team aspect that keeps us all going. It’s a second family, so being able to break these records is not so much an individual accomplishment, it’s kind of a team accomplishment. You kind of break these records for them, and you do things for the team. When others break records, I feel a part of it.” 

  Junior swimmers Kris Rogic, Loren Gillilan, and Ryan Brimer are three of the fastest competitors that CSUB has in their ranks.  

  Rogic currently holds the CSUB record for fastest time in the 100 back-stroke, is a six-time National Champion for his native nation of Croatia, and represented CSUB at last summer’s FINA World Championships in South Korea. 

  Gillilan was selected first team All-WAC last season for the 100 fly-stroke and currently holds the second fastest time in the WAC in the same event. He currently holds 32 total wins for his career, and joins sophomore Autumn D’Arcy as qualifiers for Olympic trials in the 100 fly-stroke. 

  Brimer was selected second-team All-WAC last season for the 200 freestyle and has been a key contributor to the team’s success this year. Recording 10 top-3 finishes in the freestyle stroke events, he has also recorded the eight fastest time in the WAC for the 200-freestyle. 

  Individually, these three swimmers are all setting highly competitive times in their events, but together, they create the fastest 400-Medley Relay team in CSUB history. At last year’s WAC Championships, they broke the school record for the 400-medley relay and took fourth place overall. They also teamed up to record the second fastest school time and take fifth place in the 400-freestyle relay. They are looking to break those top times again this year.  

  The CSUB men’s swim team as a whole have cleared another hurdle this year by completing their first winning season in dual meets in 10 years, with a final record of 4-2. 

  “When we came in, I never thought I’d be a part of that,” Brimer said. “I didn’t come in very fast, so I thought I’d be on the slower end, so it’s great to see that we might be the guys to go to Olympic trials or go to NC’s and push other kids that think they can do that too.” 

  Coming into this year, the three swimmers all have hopes of qualifying for NCAA Championships in their event and being first team All-WAC selections. To achieve this goal, they turned up the intensity in their preparations, competing against some challenging competition during the US Open in Atlanta, Georgia. 

  Brimer also went a step further to change the consistency of his training, and began training even closer with Rogic and Gillilan in order to reach his goals of qualifying for NCAA and Olympic trials like his teammates. 

  “Last year, I wasn’t always the best about training as hard as I could,” Brimer said. “I think we’ve really stepped it up because I’ve been training with Kris a lot this year, so he has really helped push me.” 

  Brimer claims that the change in training has benefitted his performance and times, and that the constant support from Rogic and push from Gillilan is what motivates him the most during practice.  

  As they travel to Texas this week, the Roadrunners will look to continue their momentum and set more school records in their final run in the Western Athletic Conference Championship Tournament.  

  Gillilan and Brimer both are confident that the team will perform well during the upcoming tournament. Rogic, on the other hand, is focused on redeeming himself from his performance in last year’s WAC Championships.  

  “I wasn’t exactly to happy with last year’s WAC,” Rogic said. “As a team we did really well, but I know I was capable of more, so that’s something I’m looking to show this year.” 

  Rogic hopes his performance in this year’s WAC Championships will propel him back into first team All-WAC like his freshman season, and potentially close the gap to qualifying for NCAA Championships as well.  

  Both Gillilan and Rogic predict that after the WAC races are finished, CSUB could have multiple participants in this year’s NCAA Championships on both the men’s and women’s teams, something CSUB has never had in the history of the program. 

  “I think we are going to probably surprise ourselves, our teams, and our coaches,” Gillian claims. “I think there is a lot of potential for some phenomenal swims that we haven’t seen before.” 

  The Roadrunners will begin their final splash at the WAC Championship today, Feb. 26, at the CRWC Natatorium in Houston and the tournament is scheduled to take place throughout the weekend.