Deep Dive into Swim’s 2021-2022 Season!


Booster Club Leader, Ms Dome

2021-2022 Swim Team after a meet

Coming back from quarantine was hectic for the Class of 2022. As a result, last year’s seniors didn’t get to experience their final year to its fullest. In addition, returning to school after being indoors for almost 2 years was challenging, especially for the sports teams here at Golden Valley.

The Golden Valley Swim Team was arguably one of the most affected while returning from quarantine. From having to find their leadership to feeling neglected by the school’s sports department, the year has been tough for the team. Despite these challenges, the team was able to turn their season around and come out even stronger.

2021-2022 Swim Team Season Overview

The Swim Team achieved a great 2021-2022 season but not many people were aware of the harsh obstacles faced. Due to the head instructor having a career change, the team was left without a coach and the season was on the edge of cancellation.

Thankfully, Ingersoll stepped in and accepted the offer to help guide the team throughout the season. Alongside Ingersoll, Valencia High School’s 2021 Head Swim Coach and Assistant Coach, Kathy Rosenast and Melissa Simmons, as well as two Class of ‘22 Alumni, Zachary Sears, and Jacob Joo, all played significant roles in reviving and leading the team. Considering the decision to continue the season was done on a whim, they were motivated by their passion to establish a fresh foundation for the team.

Swim Team Moving Forward…

The absence of proper guidance brought the swim team together, nothing like past seasons, it shows the new foundation that is being built is about encouraging the team to stick together through harsh obstacles while also keeping up a competitive hand. From different perspectives, the team was hungry to achieve new heights and records to prove themselves as a better team. Zachary Sears’ goal as a captain explained, “My main goal for last season was to improve as a team. I tried to act as a leader and push myself and others to do better than we had previously.”

Holly Ingersoll before Golden Valley vs Valencia Swim Meet (Danielle Luna)

The newfound coaches all took part in training seven new incoming freshmen on the team and a team including twenty-four students. The team has worked with multiple students on campus in time for the competitive season. With the clash of newcomers and already competitively trained swimmers, it was a memorable experience for the then-incoming freshmen, now sophomores.

Kaydence Dome, currently a Sophomore, was a Freshman in the 2021 season, mentioned, “The upperclassmen were encouraging and helped a lot because they knew stuff about the team that the underclassmen didn’t. It was some of our first years swimming and they would give tips before races like Zach and Jacob, and when Lauren was on the team they all helped a lot…they also helped out Ingersoll and our year overall, they were good instructors.”

Continuous Adversities

Unfortunately, the swim team didn’t start practicing until the Fall semester which backtracked the team 5 months and a year because of quarantine. “Because we didn’t have a coach we only practiced in the spring. Technique-wise, it cut us back by a lot compared to Hart, Valencia, and West Ranch since they all started practicing way before us. We definitely would have reached a much higher level with more time.” Jacob Joo told The Grizzly Gazette.

The time balance did interfere with certain goals, Joo mentioned, “When we started to get back in the water, I realized CIF was a possibility for us GV swimmers. That was one of my goals I, unfortunately, didn’t get to accomplish.”

Despite the time imbalance, Co-Captains Zachary Sears and Jacob Joo (both Class of ‘22 Alumni) aimed to leave a positive impact on the team. Both still managed to balance coaching, competing and being seniors. Fortunately, being very talented and having extensive experiences in competitive swimming, both still left with unexpected valuable lessons in ending their senior year, “I learned that even with fewer resources, dedication, and practice can have amazing results. I progressed more than I ever had despite not having a proper coach.” commented Sears.

I never expected COVID to happen and especially not having a captain as a freshman or sophomore. So with these incidents that unfortunately happened, it made me realize I had to step up to the plate.

— Jacob Joo

When taking into consideration the extra time and effort that was put into the team by those who decided to help the team, it was deemed to be a stressful season. Ingersoll expressed how much support was received when the season decided to continue, “Last year, we received help from Hart and Valencia coaches, as well as other coaches. They were all helpful which was nice. I had a lot of support from other coaches and that was good.”

Jacob Joo (’22 Alumni) talking to the 2023 Swim team after Valencia meet (Danielle Luna)

The amount of help that was received and despite not having a coach, the Golden Valley swim team managed to reach the California International Federation (CIF) with two competitors, Zachary Sears, and Claire Pagaran. Completing an outstanding season, swim’s accomplishments didn’t receive credit where credit was due.

It’s a recurring pattern of how underappreciated some teams are at Golden Valley, such as Tennis, Swim, and Golf, all teams that have done great in recent seasons but are swept under the rug most of the time. Dome mentioned, “There was no participation from the school compared to other schools, some were like ‘Oh wait we have a swim team, really?’ We’re on a team that nobody knows about and the school is just kinda like oh we forgot about you guys.”

Sears agreed and commented, “There was a lack of general support from the school and it felt very limiting. We would often have to borrow gear from other schools and the aquatic center. There was support but it felt like I had to reach out, and was given scraps, whereas other teams are treated as near royalty.” Regardless, it’s never a good feeling to feel neglected especially in a sport that people are passionate about yet are not given the opportunity to show their full potential because of these setbacks.

The Dynamic Duo: Zachary and Jacob

Jacob was one of my main motivations throughout high school, he encouraged me no matter what. There isn’t anybody I would rather have worked alongside. I consider him as a brother, we’ve been together since the start and stayed together until the end.

— Zachary Sears, Class of ‘22 Alumni

Nonetheless, Sears’ leadership and effort put into handling a team of several students left a momentous impact on the swim team. The team is very open about how much they cherished Sears, “Zach is overall, a great guy, he taught others and still reached CIF…as a leader he not only wanted himself to succeed but he wanted the team to succeed with him. Which I think is a quality that is underlooked upon.” Joo commented. “When Jacob and Zach come to our swim meets the whole team rallies around them, ‘cause we all love them so much even the new kids who didn’t experience them as coaches last year.” quoted Dome.

Sears was by far the most experienced swimmer and he knew how to teach newer swimmers with the proper technique and strategies. He has been on the team all four years during his time at GV and has gone to a handful of meets during the 2023 season. Sears expressed his purpose in still helping the team regardless of having already graduated, “I enjoy helping, and I especially enjoy coaching. Visiting has allowed me to see the progress of those who admired me and help guide them towards being the best they can be.” While being a team leader, he was never selfish in guiding people and continues that tradition a year later.

“It was more of a brotherhood, we knew each other for the longest time. It was complete trust that the other person would fulfill their duties as captain of the team… because of our leadership contrast, I think we made a perfect team for each other, the greatest co-captain I could’ve ever asked for.

— Jacob Joo, Class of ‘22 Alumni

Joo’s leadership qualities took more of a mental approach, his goals in aiding the team were, “I wanted to connect with my teammates, especially the newer ones, I wanted to be a leader to show them what it’s like to be part of a team they never got to experience like I did when I was a freshman.” Joo has always been a supporting companion that helped the whole team get through the season mentally, which every sports team needs, physical qualities of a team can only get everyone so far.”

Truly an iconic dynamic duo, it showed how much they helped the team overall and especially how well their abilities worked together for each other. Sears and Joo were the only seniors on the 2021-2022 team and they both expressed how much they appreciated each other when getting through the unfortunate circumstances of the season.

Jacob Joo and Zachary Sears at the 2022 Golden Valley High School Graduation (Usman Fawaz)

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Despite no longer having that duo as captains, the swim team has come a long way since a year ago. Now with a very passionate head coach, Mel Simmons, there is a determination to help the team succeed in their future seasons working together.

The team also now has a booster club that supports the team and Claire Pagaran reaching CIF this year as well. Dome commented, “The team themselves have done amazing, I know I’ve tried a lot but seeing how far my teammates have come, specifically Aiden, we found swimming was our love and our place. We all grew so much. I also made it to finals for my second season swimming, the event competes against the top 10 swimmers of all of Santa Clarita Valley and it’s a huge accomplishment.”

Their last season shouldn’t be highlighted as just one without an official coach, the story of how they all got through that challenge is much more interesting than “not having a coach.” It was an experience to understand the last two years of Golden Valley’s Swim Team unfold and make tremendous progress within each other. With the current 2023 swim season coming to an end this Thursday, May 18, the team will hopefully continue to improve with their new leadership positions in charge and the future Varsity lineup for next season. Make sure to support the team in their future endeavors!

Jacob instilled a lot of confidence in me and Zach would encourage me and I believed him. They’re both one of the reasons I feel like I’m successful in my season today.

— Kaydence Dome, Sophomore on Golden Valley’s Swim Team