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The spring sports season is underway at Canyon Crest Academy (CCA) and Torrey Pines High School (TPHS), and both schools’ swim and dive teams are hard at work in hopes of qualifying for CIF. Looking to their talented and hardworking coaching staff for guidance and advice, the teams have already set a strong foundation for the beginning of the season. Read along as we speak with Nico Kintz, Head Swim and Dive Coach at CCA, and Richard Contreras, Head Swim and Dive Coach at TPHS, about the team’s histories, awards, and what to expect from this year’s season.

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Q&A with Nico Kintz, CCA Head Swim and Dive Coach 

What is the history behind CCA’s swim and dive team?
Canyon Crest Academy’s swim team started in 2005 with about 25 athletes who wanted to do high school swimming to stay in shape for high school water polo. The dive team started in 2011. Ten years later, CCA swim and dive is now one of the main contenders for the Division II CIF title with top county swimmers and divers attending our school.

Which league is the team part of?
CCA is part of the Palomar League.

What is the history behind your career as an athlete and coach?
I started swimming at age five and finished my career after making finals at the 2004 Athens Olympics. I coached a master’s team in San Diego from 2005 to 2010. I got involved with CCA as head coach in 2008 and founded San Diego Elite Swim in 2009. Currently, I serve as the aquatics director at the Bay Club Carmel Valley, where I’ve worked since 2010. I am also on the coaching staff at that location for PAC swim team.

Tell us about the coaching staff and what they bring to the team.
Jamie Pearce is our dive coach. She started with a novice team three years ago, and last season she had three divers in the top three at CIF. Her knowledge and passion for the sport helped our team get to the level it is now. Megan Milder has been the assistant coach for the last four years.

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How long have you been head coach and what inspired you to take this position?
One of my former clients’ sons was a student at CCA. The school was looking for a new coach in 2008, so he asked me if I was willing to help. I wanted to give back to the sport of swimming as it brought so much to my life.

What is the most rewarding aspect about coaching? The most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect is definitely having athletes beat all expectations and stay with the sport past high school. The most challenging aspect is the 5:30 a.m. daily practices.

When does the spring season begin and where are practices held?
It starts mid-February and ends the last week of May with state championships. We practice in the mornings at Cathedral Catholic High School.
What swim events does the school participate in?
We have dual meets within the Palomar League. We will participate at the Sundevil Varsity Invitational and Sundevil Junior Varsity Invitational. The 2015 season will finish in May with Palomar, CIF, and state championships. The top three San Diego swimmers will make the team for state championships.

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Are there any standout athletes to look out for this season?
Garrett Schmid, Anthony Kang, Tracy Chen, Zender and Brendan Santana, Leah and Shelby Buford.

Please provide us with an outlook for the team this year. What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
I have some hefty goals and expectations for this year. My team goals are to defend our Palomar title, to win CIF, and to qualify 6 to 12 athletes to state championships.

What awards/accolades/recognition has the team achieved over the years?
We were Valley League champions numerous times before we were invited to the Palomar League two years ago. We won Palomar League and the Sundevils Invitational for the first time in 2014.

Please tell us about the team’s current record.
Our boys team had seven wins and one loss in dual meets in 2014 and was runner up at CIF. Our girls team finished third at CIF.

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Are there any athletes on the team that currently hold a school record for a swim or dive event?
We had 13 school records out of 22 broken in 2014. All but two swimmers and divers will be returning this year.

Are there any local students who have gone on to participate on a collegiate and/or professional level?
Some freshman swimmers and divers at the Naval Academy. We also have had students graduate and participate with swim and dive programs at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, the Air Force, UC San Diego, and more.

How do you stress the importance of academics to the student athletes?
Academics is a top priority for students at CCA. I understand the importance of balancing academics and athletics correctly and I help our student athletes maintain this balance. CCA swimmers and divers most often have the highest GPA out of all sports teams in San Diego County, so I have rarely dealt with any academic issues.

Do you have any upcoming events, fundraisers, or tournaments that you would like to share with our readers?
The 2015 Sundevil Varsity Invitational will be held on March 21. The Torrey Pines High School, Cathedral Catholic High School, and Canyon Crest Academy tri-meet is always a fun event as well. CCA swim and dive is a self-funded program, so any donation to the CCA foundation for the teams is greatly appreciated.

Tell us about the support you receive from parents, volunteers, and the community.
We have awesome parents that help run the team. Supporters include Amy Seki, Laurie Schmid, the Schade family, and the Wiggins family. Most parents understand that the team needs volunteers and are willing to give their time and money to help support the kids and the sport.

What’s the most exciting part about working with the team?
The best thing about CCA’s swim and dive team is this upcoming season!

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At-A-Glance

CCA Swim and Dive Team

Head Coach: Nico Kintz
Practice Location: Cathedral Catholic High School
Email: nkintz@hotmail.com
Phone: 858-350-0253

Nico Kintz, CCA Swim and Dive Head Coach

Education: BS Education from The University of Georgia
Family: Spouse – Molly; Daughter – Maya
Hobbies and Interests: Surfing and swimming
Favorite Swim and Dive Event: Relays


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Q&A with Richard Contreras, TPHS Head Swim and Dive Coach

What is the history behind Torrey Pines High School’s swim and dive team? When was the sport started? Which league is the team part of?
The program has been around since the 1970s. We have split time between the Palomar and Avocado Leagues. Historically, we’ve always had a strong team in absence of our own pool and often without the benefit of a diving team.

Tell us about the coaching staff and what they bring to the team.
K.C. Tudor, our diving coach, has been with us for seven years. He is also the coach at Cathedral Catholic High School. The junior varsity coach is typically an ex-swimmer of TPHS. I have been with the TPHS swim team since 1995, working different positions. I’ve been the head coach since 2003. I have over 20 years of experience coaching competitive swimming and 18 years of experience coaching high school swimmers.

When does the spring season begin and where are practices held?
Our season begins on Feb. 20 and we currently practice at the Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito in Solana Beach.

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Which swim events does the school participate in?
Our dual meet season consists of two to three non-league meets and six league meets, as well as one varsity invitational and one junior varsity invitational. We also participate in a league championship meet and the CIF Division I championship meet.

Are there any standout athletes to look out for this season?
Yes! On the girls team the outstanding returnees are Katherine Lauerman, Julee Keenan-Rivers, Bella Boese, Pina Simone, and Lindsey Anderson. On the boys team our outstanding returnees are Stephen Park, Daniel Ines, Ryan Parker, and Noah Ayers.

Please provide us with an outlook for the team this year. What are your expectations for the upcoming season?
Our teams, both boys and girls, will contend for the league title and the CIF Division I titles. I expect us to be very competitive. The main goal is that we all do our best, have a positive experience, and learn something in the process.
What awards/accolades/recognition has the team achieved over the years?
The teams have won numerous CIF titles, 9 out of 11 in my years as the head coach. The girls have claimed more CIF Division I titles than the boys. Both the girls and the boys teams were dual champions in 2001 and 2011. Our swimmers have achieved numerous all-American standards and have been awarded thousands of dollars in college scholarships.

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Please tell us about the team’s current record.
Currently, the girls have won four consecutive CIF titles. The boys team won the title in 2011 and regularly finishes in the top three at CIF.

Are there any athletes on the team that currently hold a school record for a swim or dive event?
Yes. The current squad probably only has swimmers that have achieved a school record on relays, but the squad is young and they are contending with an esteemed set of records.

How do you stress the importance of academics to the student athletes?
Academics come first. Most of the kids who participate on the swim team are good students and maintain high academic standards in the classroom. We have had student-athletes compete at Division I schools such as USC, Harvard, Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo, MIT, and UC Davis.

Do you have any upcoming events, fundraisers, or tournaments that you would like to share with our readers?
Yes! The rummage sale, the Mt. Carmel High School Dual meet, and our CIF Division I championship meet. Visit www.tphsaquatics.com/swim for more information.

Tell us about the support you receive from parents, volunteers, and the community.
Our parents are amazing supporters. The TPHS Foundation is among the best in San Diego, if not the state of California. The support we receive is valuable and helps us to maintain the high standard of quality within the program.

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Please tell us about one of the most memorable moments either coaching or watching the swim and dive team.
I love to see the kids improve. Winning is not the most important thing, but the teams understand the legacy of success that the program has and they really want to perpetuate it. Many of them have other aspirations and bigger “fish to fry,” but when it comes to the CIF title, they circle the wagons, sharpen their focus, and go for the win. More often than not they come out on top.

What’s the best thing about the swim and dive team?
The reverence the kids have for the history and legacy of our program.

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 At-A-Glance

TPHS Swim and Dive Team

Head Coach: Richard W. Contreras
Practice Location: Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito in Solana Beach
Email: cuzcontreras@gmail.com
Phone: 760-402-8732

Richard Contreras, TPHS Swim and Dive Head Coach

Education: BA in History from Cal State San Marcos
Hobbies and Interests: Bodysurfing, bike riding, reading, travel
Favorite Swim and Dive Event: 200 freestyle