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Northridge Staying Afloat in Troubled Waters

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Cal State Northridge is doing just swimmingly, so maybe this is all water under the bridge. But let’s get one thing straight: Anyone who thinks this season has been all smooth sailing for the Matador swim team doesn’t have both oars in the water.

Coach Pete Accardy’s team has been a victim of dirty pool. And, for that matter, cold pool as well. But until now, no one has dared to make waves before the national meet March 8-11 at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

And should the women’s team claim a third consecutive Division II championship, Accardy will give the credit to pride and experience, not training.

“It’s scary because of all the problems we’ve had with the pool,” Accardy said. “As far as training, I’m not satisfied. In the middle-distance freestyles there’s a real question as to whether we’ve done enough swimming to fall back on.”

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Pool problems at Northridge are nothing new. Accardy estimates that the team’s training facilities have gradually deteriorated over the past 10 years. In the past, both the men’s and women’s swim squads have been forced to abandon the premises, sometimes for weeks at a time, in the middle of training.

This season it has happened only once, two weeks ago when the water became so cloudy that the team’s workout was moved to Woodcrest School in Tarzana. But the trouble had been building since January.

“At first it was a problem with the water staying warm,” Accardy said. “Then, when they got that fixed, the water was all cloudy.”

Take your choice, swimmers: cold and clear, or warm and green.

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“The green was the biggest problem,” said Jude Kylander, a freestyle sprinter. “You couldn’t see five feet in front of you.”

Such conditions tend to make a swimmer’s turns hazardous.

“It’s like swimming in a swamp,” Kylander said. “You can’t see the walls so you have no idea where you are. Then, when you swim in a clear pool, you can’t judge the walls.”

The swimmers continued to work out after being assured that the problem did not involve faulty chemicals, although speculation over what caused the murky tint led to a fair share of raunchy jokes.

But Accardy sees little humor in the situation, perhaps because he has been forced to battle similar circumstances too many times before.

“It seems like this happens almost every year,” he said. “They think it was a circulation problem this time. The pool needs a lot of work.”

Said Kylander: “It’s crazy. You would think that after all the years of doing so well, they would help us out a little bit more. Maybe they’re taking it for granted.”

If so, the school will likely get away with it. By many accounts, last season’s team was the best women’s squad ever assembled at the Division II level.

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In all, seven NCAA records and 14 school marks fell as the Lady Matadors defeated Tampa by a stunning margin of 156 points.

Kylander, Jeanna Giessinger, Michele Sulak, Tina Schnare, Carol Eisele and Lisa Dial, who combined to take part in all but three of CSUN’s record-shattering performances, will be back trying to better their marks.

“If we swim as well as last year, I think we’ll win it,” Accardy said. “It’s like I’ve been telling them, when those dates come up for nationals, we need to be ready. They’re not going to postpone it for us.”


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