Burroughs High boys' and girls' swimming Coach Danny Garcia expects to have strong and experienced teams this season.
Burbank boys’ and girls’ swimming Coach Brian Roney knows he’ll have balanced and experienced squads too, but probably not this season.
“It's a very young team,” said Roney, an All-American swimmer at USC in 1982 who is in his first year at Burbank. “We're inexperienced and we’re in a rebuilding mode. We’re going to be really good in a couple of years.”
Burbank might not have experienced swimmers, but it has a decorated coach.
Roney qualified for the 1980 United States Olympic team in the 400-meter freestyle. It was supposed to be the highlight of his swimming career. But Roney did not compete in the Moscow Olympics in 1980 because the U.S. and other countries boycotted the games to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
“I think about it all the time,” Roney said. “I don’t think it’s anything you get rid of. Unfortunately, those they’re known as the asterisk Olympics.”
He had phenomenal careers at El Camino Real High and at USC, including setting a time of 1 minute 39.5 seconds in the 200-yard freestyle in 1978.
“It’s the only trophy I keep around,” said Roney, whose time of 4:25 in the 500 freestyle was the second-fastest in the nation in 1978.
Roney is trying to pass on some of his knowledge to the Bulldogs.
“I'm a technique freak,” said Roney, who has also coached Valencia, Hart, West Ranch and Canyon Country Canyon. “I focus on turns, starts, and technique. I push technique. It’s not something they’re used to.”
Roney will have few swimmers with experience. Pablo Edgar, Brian Kwon and Shane Pentowski will look to lead the Bulldogs as returners. Kwon helped the Bulldogs’ 200 medley relay team place second in the Pacific League finals last year.
On the girls’ side, Jenny Udall and Gabby Dixon look to score points for the Bulldogs.
“Seventy percent of our team is in the ninth and 10th grade,” Roney said. “We have a few juniors and a handful of seniors.”
Burroughs will rely on its seniors, as it will have a squad that should be one of the strongest it has had in the past few years.
“We have some returners and some surprises,” Garcia said. “It’s going to be a fun one. The level of dedication these athletes have put in the past few years. They want to win, which is always nice. Winning is fun.
“For the guys, we have a really, really good team coming back.”
Brothers Casey Ueno and Kevin Ueno — who’ll swim in the relay events — should highlight the boys’ team. The Indians got a runner-up finish from Casey Ueno, Kevin Ueno, Skyler Winkler and Chris Reithel in the 200 freestyle in 1:30.97 and the same group was second in the 400 freestyle in 3:21.83 in the league finals last year.
Brandon Olivas, a distance swimmer, and Daniel Mairena, a freestyle specialist, will also “do some damage,” this year, according to Garcia.
A year ago, the Indians received runner-up finishes from Michaela Salinas in the 200-yard freestyle (1:58.49) and the 500 freestyle (5:11.84) in the league finals. Salinas will return this year with hopes of winning the league titles in each event.
Other swimmers who will look to place in the top slots in league include Bailey Simmons — who’ll swim the breaststroke — Sierra Marroqun (butterfly) and Sara Jung (freestyle).
“There’s a ton of others,” Garcia said. “We have a very, very strong team coming up. I’m excited.
“Every year I coach, my expectations rise because the athletes get stronger and stronger. Last year we did fantastic, and this year, I’m expecting more. Every year my athletes never fail to disappoint me.”