Swimming: Small team hopes to make up for key losses to graduation

March 5, 2020 — by Neeti Badve and Jonathan Li

Star player senior Oscar Khowong races a breaststroke event.

Head Coach: Christian Bonner

Last year’s record: 1-5

Recap: The boys sent two relays, consisting of then sophomore Tommaso Morini Bianzino and then seniors Daniel Bessonov, Nicholas Bray, Nicholas Burry and Andrew Gao, to CCS finals last year, and Morini Bianzino received a state consideration time. 

Key Matchups: Los Gatos 

Star athletes: seniors Oscar Khowong and Jinsu Yim and juniors Neeya Devanagondi, Neeti Badve, Tommaso Morini Bianzino, Lukas Peng, Brandon Fung and Taesu Yim 

Key losses to graduation: Lei Otsuka, Madeline Stuart, Sarah Daoudi, Nicholas Burry, Nicholas Bray, Daniel Bessenov, Andrew Gao

League: De Anza League

Prognosis: 

The team placed fourth at the League Championships last season, and several swimmers qualified for CCS. There, two varsity boys relays got a second swim, and sophomore Tommaso Morini Bianzino rang in a state-qualifying time in the 200 freestyle. 

The team looks forward to a successful season with returning swimmers and several new members who hope to fill in the gaps that the graduating seniors left behind. 

At the start of the season, the team added new coach Yayla Sezginer, who swam for Saratoga all four years of her high school career from 2011 to 2015 under current head coach Christian Bonner. Sezginer was a top 16 CCS finalist, and she wanted to return to coach high schoolers in order to pass on the baton and inspire her love of swimming in others. 

Though the team is smaller than she is used to, Sezginer thinks that smaller numbers could aid the team in terms of unity. 

“It’s really heartwarming to see that most of them actually want to be here,” she said. “I think that means they’re going to  improve, but at the end of the day, what’s most important is that everyone has fun.”

Senior Jinsu Yim has been a longtime participant and contributor to the team, and as captain, she believes this season looks to be one of rebuilding into contention. 

“I’m hoping we’ll score better this year and place higher at leagues,” she said. “I really want to send more individuals to CCS.”

But with so many seniors and valuable swimmers gone, Yim admits that it could be hard to come together as a team. 

“My goal is to foster an environment in which swimmers can support one another as a team in their individual efforts, especially with all the new faces on the team,” Yim said. 

Whatever the case, the swimmers hope to be able to adapt and figure out how to work as a unit, which will be essential for relays and fast swims in their future. 

Their first meet is scheduled for Feb. 28 at Monta Vista High School.

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