Riverside City College is set to host the 2018 Orange Empire Conference (OEC) swimming and diving championships beginning on Thursday, April 19th and concluding on Saturday, April 21st. Seven conference opponents will compete to hoist the trophy at tournament's end with numerous frontrunners highlighting the grip of competitors.
Orange Coast enters the meet as the favorite by a landslide on both sides. They hold a combined 30 top-ranked times in the OEC with the men holing 14 and the women owning 16. On the men's side, Golden West holds six top times, while Cypress holds four top times on the women's side.
In the 2017 OEC Swimming & Diving Championships, the Tigers earned the title on the women's side with a point total of 802, edging out Orange Coast by 90 points. OCC came in second, while Saddleback placed third with 520 points. Golden West earned the gold medal on the men's side by accumulating 849 points, while Riverside placed second with 782 points. Orange Coast followed in third place with 548 points.
From last year's field, there are four returning champions for the men in their respected events. Sophomore Farouk Zaoui returns for Riverside after being named the 2017 OEC Swimmer of the Meet after reigning supreme in the 500 Free (4:37.30 – 2017) and 200 Fly (1:52.37- 2017). He enters into this year's contest with a second-ranked seed time in the 500 Free with a clip of 4:50.06 and a fourth-ranked seed time of 2:01.90 in the 200 Fly.
Orange Coast is helmed by sophomore speedster Hayden Hemmens. He enters into the meet with top times in the 200 Back (1:53.37), 200 Free (1:40.57), and the 500 Free (4:36.81). Cole Gerrit comes in as the favorite for the one-meter and three-meter dive.
Golden West returns a pair of first-place finishers from last season with sophomore Santiago Rivera highlighting the duo. He earned the gold medal in the 200 Breaststroke (2:03.36 – 2017) and the 400 IM (4:01.04 – 2017). He owns three top times with a 2:03.12 mark in the 200 Breaststroke, a 4:04.68 clip in the 400 IM, and a 1:55.38 clip in the 200 IM. Sophomore Liam McClafferty looks to defend his title in the 1650 Freestyle with a current seed mark of 16:59.69. His teammate freshman Connor Wallace holds the top spot with a top-ranked time of 16:55.55.
For the women, Orange Coast paces the field with four top swimmers in numerous events. Sophomore Lauren Weins holds top marks in the 100 Fly (57.96), the 100 Back (57.23), and the 200 Back (2:06.51). Freshman Cheyenne Morris looks to capture titles with top times in the 400 IM (4:47.17) and the 1650 Free (18:12.93), while freshman Kylie McCormick looks to make waves in the 200 IM (2:18.39) and the 200 Breaststroke (2:31.68).
Cypress' Alejandra Gomez looks to repeat as the one-meter and three-meter dive champion as well.
(Release by Nicho DellaValle, Riverside City College Athletics)