Arman Zadeh, sports editor
The Normans’ swimming squad recently completed one of its most successful seasons in years. Reaching a number of milestones and accomplishing a multitude of goals, the team dominated the Ocean League deep into CIF finals with learned discipline and a newfound hunger for victory.
After being “robbed” at last season’s league finals by rival Culver City, the Normans, initially disappointed according to swimmer David Prokopenko, turned their anger into motivation by coming out this season with even more drive to win. That motivation carried the team to an undefeated season, the first in three years, and led most of its individuals into CIF finals.
“We came with a sense of urgency. We hauled through all the competition and left nothing to close calls. Culver wasn’t even a threat at [the competition for] league,” Prokopenko said. “We wanted to win and we wanted to make a statement.”
This season, the team’s only threat in league came from archrival Samo, whom the Normans were still able to oust 350-277. The win served as a solid indicator of the team’s overall strength.
The team’s success stems from its determination to win and its members’ camaraderie. In its journey to the league title, swimmers constantly and consistently gave each match “110 percent,” said Prokopenko, and kept each other motivated by any means possible.
“Once we all decided to work as a team, no one could stop us. We always supported each other and always had each other’s backs even if one of us had a bad swim,” Prokopenko said.
Head coach Robert Bowie played a major role in the team’s success this season. Following last year’s loss at league, Bowie and the team established a mutual agreement that they would be champions. Since then, Bowie has pushed the team to swim better and faster and helped lead the team to its recent success.
“[Bowie’s] workouts were key to our success. Without him, there was no way we would have done as well [in League],” captain Steven Turnbull said.
On Saturday, May 11, the team traveled to Riverside Community College for CIF finals. Among those who traveled with the team were Turnbull and Alexander Ayzenberg, who swam the 100-meter butterfly; Mason Segal and Prokopenko, who swam in the 4X100 relay; and freshman Amy Okada and junior Allie Kahn from the girls team.
Turnbull applauds his fellow teammate Segal for his work this season toward their shared success.
“I give credit to the whole team but especially Mason,” Turnbull said. “He was just behind me in the power rankings and he helped the team out greatly with his hard work, dedication and most importantly, his determination.” At this year’s finals, Beverly was successful at league but swimmers did not meet their expectations under the “insane” pressure of the finals, as Prokopenko described.
In one of the main events, the 100 butterfly, Beverly was able to place, with Turnbull in eighth and Ayzenberg in ninth. In the 4X100 relay, swimmers Turnbull, Ayzenberg, Segal and Prokopenko were only a few seconds away from a CIF record.
“We had really high expectations, and we did well,” Prokopenko said. “But we all wish we could redo it.”
With the 2013 season behind them, the team must shift its focus to conditioning in hopes that members may have an even bigger presence at CIF playoffs next season.
“It was a great season, but we really wanted those school records. We are just going to keep training and get them next year,” Prokopenko said. “We headed to CIF with really high hopes. But it’s okay. We are all still determined.”