good times local news media events catalyst santa cruz california metro silicon valley news local events san jose weekly pajaronian watsonville local newspaper, news events pajaro valley california gilroy dispatch local news events garlic festival santa cruz media events local california weekly king city rustler newspaper media local events car sales buy new car media
53.3 F
Morgan Hill
English English Spanish Spanish
May 27, 2023

Oakwood High building a fast swim team, one lap at a time

The Oakwood High swim program had its best season in team history, having just completed its seventh season as a program. 

Co-coaches Jaime Tompkins and Van Weltchek were thrilled with this year’s seven-member group, the largest in school history. In 2022, the Hawks had four swimmers, double the number it averaged in the first five years of the program. 

So, things are looking up, not just from a numbers standpoint but from a quality of talent pool as well. For the first time in a single season, Oakwood had multiple swimmers—junior Maddy Weltchek and freshman Lucas Tompkins—qualify for the Central Coast Section Prelims on May 5 at Hollister High. 

Neither Weltchek nor Tompkins advanced to the Finals the next day, but that didn’t take away from their tremendous seasons. A week prior in the Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division Finals, Weltchek won the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 15.15 seconds, the top overall time of any swimmer regardless of division—Gabilan, Mission and Cypress—with the next closest competitor a distant four seconds behind. 

Dominating performance indeed. Weltchek, who set the Mission Division record in the 200 IM last year, also won the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.64. Additionally, she set the Mission Division record in the 100 fly in the CCS Prelims.

Tompkins had a standout league finals meet, winning the 100 breaststroke in 59.93 seconds and the 200 IM in a Mission Division record of 2:06.48. Tompkins had the top overall time in the breaststroke and the third fastest overall time in the 200 IM. 

“Lucas and Maddy both improved their times, getting personal-records regularly,” Jaime Tompkins said. “As we get further along in the next couple of years, hopefully we’ll continue to have a good turnout for the team, continue to improve and make finals. At one point, having a relay team qualify for CCS would be awesome, too.”

In addition to Weltchek and Tompkins, the team had freshman Luke Hansotte, sophomore Simon Blanchard, junior Maddison Lara and seniors Vlad Zaitsau and Lee Stilwell. The seven member roster established school records for first league duel-meet wins, a top three division finish for the boys 200 medley relay team and a top five finish for the boys in the Mission Division Finals team results. 

The boys also put together a 400 free relay squad that posted solid times throughout the season. Weltchek and Tompkins swim year-round, Weltchek with Santa Clara Swim Club and Tompkins with South Valley Makos. 

“They do a lot of training and obviously that helps them quite a bit in high school swimming competition,” Jaime Tompkins said. “They both put a lot of time into it and did move up quite a bit from the beginning of the year.”

Jaime Tompkins said she was particularly proud of the less experienced swimmers who in some cases were learning the basic fundamentals of the sport—from the strokes to underwater swimming to turns to dives—for essentially the first time. 

“In swimming the nice thing is you’re just trying to be a little bit better than last time,” Tompkins said. “Individually, our goal was to learn and it’s always nice to see each of them reach a little deeper and accomplish something maybe they didn’t think they could do.”

Since Oakwood doesn’t have a pool on campus, the team had to make use of the Morgan Hill Aquatics Center. Despite not being able to practice together all the time, Tompkins said the swimmers’ chemistry was evident. 

“Everyone worked really well together and contributed,” Tompkins said. “It’s really neat to see the team when they’re cheering each other on. Just a great group of kids.”

Seven years ago, then-freshman Annie Rickard along with her mom Jackie helped launch the Oakwood swim program. Tompkins’ oldest son, Brendan, joined the team the following year.

That’s what makes everyone who has been involved in the program so proud, as families and friends coalesce to make something special happen.

Emanuel Lee
Emanuel Lee is the sports editor of the Los Gatan, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. An American High and University of Kentucky alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Gavilan College, various youth sports in south Santa Clara/San Benito counties and pro sports on occasion. Two decades of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. With the Weeklys/NewSVMedia group since 2013. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40 (7:24 mile pace), counts himself as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza. Coaches, athletic directors and parents are encouraged to report scores to [email protected].

Please leave a comment


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here