By Joe Naiman
The 2013 high school swim season will be Jolyn Yanez’s fourth as Ramona High School’s girls head coach and her first as the Bulldogs’ boys head coach.
Frank Yturralde had coached the Bulldog boys from 2009 to 2012, but turned the boys program over to Yanez, who will be in charge of both teams this year.
“I’m really excited about it,” Yanez said. “This actually is a great opportunity.”
Yanez noted that combining the two programs will create a shift in the team culture.
“It’s going to be pretty exciting for both groups,” she said. “It’s really upped the game of both the boys and the girls.”
Tryouts began Feb. 19, and Yanez has 29 girls and 17 boys in her program.
“It’s been a great first two weeks,” she said.
Eleven of those girls missed the first week of tryouts for a valid reason — they were members of Ramona High School’s water polo team which won the CIF championship Feb. 23.
“That was a huge nod for the aquatics program at Ramona High School,” Yanez said.
Yanez believes that the benefits of the water polo championship outweigh the reduced practice time for those players.
“It just brought a huge amount of enthusiasm to this group,” she said. “They’ve set a good foundation for the year already as far as expectations and the work ethic.”
In a dual meet schools can enter up to three swimmers for each of the eight individual events and up to two quartets in each of the three relay races. A swimmer is limited to two individual events and two relay events at a meet, so at least 12 swimmers are necessary for a team to maximize its scoring opportunities. Yanez will keep 12 swimmers on the boys varsity while ceding junior varsity meets in which the Bulldogs will have five swimmers. The girls varsity will have 12 swimmers while the other 17 will compete in junior varsity dual meets. The low number of boys will allow the junior varsity boys and girls to practice in the pool at the same time.
Seniors Gina Lucas and Amanda Huber will be the girls captains while senior Ian Jacoway and junior Garrett Glaudini will captain the boys team. Glaudini’s mother, Shannon, has been added to Ramona’s coaching staff and will be the Bulldogs’ stroke coach. Shannon Glaudini and Yanez both have Heartland Swim Club coaching experience.
“We’ve worked together for a long time,” Yanez said.
Natalie Walters was Yturralde’s junior varsity coach in 2012, and she will coach both JV teams this year. That allows Walters to convey historical knowledge of Ramona’s boys to Yanez while Yanez can provide information on Ramona junior varsity girls to Walters. Drills coach Gene Oxe also returns to the program.
The Bulldogs were in the Valley League in 2010 before being moved to the Palomar League for 2011 and 2012. Ramona returned to the Valley League this year.
“I’m expecting a lot more wins,” Yanez said. “My goal for the program is we’re Valley League champions for both the boys and the girls.”
One major obstacle to a league championship is that neither team has a diver. In a dual meet if only one school has a diver the team scores do not include the diving, but the individual diver may compete for CIF meet qualifying purposes. In the league meet, as well as in the CIF meet, divers are scored even if other schools do not have divers.
“We really need to get a few kids who are committed to training year-round,” Yanez said. “You can’t just walk on and be a diver.”
Some meets have six-dive competitions while others utilize 11 diving events. The dives include activities such as reverses and twists.
“All of that can actually add up to a pretty scary thing,” Yanez said. “You can’t just participate three months a year and not expect to do a lot of belly-flops.”
The league championship format is based on the results of both dual meets and the results of the league meet, so it is still possible for Ramona to be the league champion or co-champion even without a diver.
This year’s Valley League also consists of Del Norte, Oceanside, Valley Center, Escondido Charter, and Classical Academy, which replaced Orange Glen in the league after the Patriots were unable to field a boys or girls swim team. Two Valley League meets per week will be contested; Ramona’s league competition will begin April 19 against Escondido Charter and conclude May 3 against Del Norte.
The Bulldogs will also have two North County Conference cross-league meets, including Ramona’s first home meet of the season March 19 against Mission Hills.