Cougars Break Six School Records At PCSC Championships

This article was originally published in ZU News.

The Cougars’ swim team finished off their season in a big way, placing fourth of thirteen teams at the Pacific Coast Swimming Championships (PCSC) held in La Mirada from Feb. 14-17. The team broke six total school records in relays and individual events, with several swimmers setting personal best times.

On Wednesday, junior Abigail Wiet, junior Elodie Poo Cheong, senior Angel Van Hofwegen and freshman Emily Rigsby broke the school record in the 200-meter medley relay with a time of 1:46.00. They finished sixth in the event.

The Cougars also broke another record on Wednesday when Wiet, Poo Cheong, and seniors Alyse Darnall and Rosalee Mira Santa Ana swam a 7:33.92 in the 800-meter freestyle relay. They finished fourth in the event and Darnall said she was happy with the results.

“Wednesday was a fun day to kick it off. We broke the school record in that, which was really cool,” Darnall said. “We also got the provisional cut in that for nationals which means that we just need one person from the relay to make it to nationals for another event so that the whole relay team can go to nationals.”

In the likelihood that one of the members makes nationals, all four girls will attend nationals from March 14-17 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Darnall said she’s excited to find out if the relay’s time was good enough for nationals.

“We’ll keep training. Those are seriously some of the hardest working girls on the team and it’s really fun to train with them. I love working hard with other people,” Darnall said. “I’m also looking forward to ending my college career and swimming career at nationals in North Carolina.”

Darnall is one of four seniors on the team. This was her last regular season meet for APU.

“It really didn’t hit me until last night during prelims. I was behind the blocks before my race when it finally hit me that this is my last meet with the whole team,” Darnall said. “It’s very bittersweet. It doesn’t feel real. I’m sad, but excited. I’m going to miss the team because that’s a big part of my life, but I’m excited for the next chapter of my life, to see where God takes me.”

Darnall and the rest of the team will find out on Feb. 28 if they made it to nationals or not. Two of the swimmers who will likely be headed to nationals are Santa Ana and senior Tamara Miler.

Santa Ana placed second in the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:56.87 and placed fourth in the 1000-meter freestyle with a time of 10:16.38. Miler finished just behind Santa Ana in the 500-meter with a time of 5:03.31 but finished just ahead of her in the 1000-meter with a time of 10:13.83. All of their times in these events were good for an NCAA “B” cut.

Poo Cheong placed second in the 200-meter IM with a time of 2:05.10. Wiet finished just behind her with a time of 2:06.17.

“I’m really happy. This is the result of all the hard work I’ve put in. Some of the school records were really old so it shows the progress that we’re making, getting better and better every year,” Poo Cheong said.

Poo Cheong said she wants to continue to lower her times and get better before nationals. She is already preparing for the pressure of nationals after the pressure of conference championships.

“There was a lot of pressure, not in a bad way, just to show what I can do, what I’ve been working hard for, race and have fun,” Poo Cheong said.

On the final day of the championships, Wiet represented the Cougars with a third place finish in the 200-meter backstroke with a time of 2:02.18, just .01 behind the second place swimmer.

“I ended up getting out-touched by one one-hundredth of a second. It’s disappointing, you think if I only would have had a better turn or a better finish, it would have been different,” Wiet said. “I was just so exhausted afterwards that I don’t think I could have done anything more to out-touch that girl.”

Wiet has had a rough season, battling injuries from last summer, injuries throughout the season and even into the championships.

“It’s been kind of crazy. This whole year I’ve been riddled with injuries. Even at conference, I’ve been dealing with some injuries, so I haven’t been at top form,” Wiet said. “I’m prepared to go to nationals if I qualify, but I’m also prepared if I don’t make it. I had a great end of the season for me. Seeing the team come together and seeing everyone have really good times was good enough for me at this point.”

Wiet said that the season has been rough for the whole team, not just her, but that this was a good way to end it.

“It was a really fun meet. Sometimes our team has been a little ‘not together’ during the season,” Wiet said. “It was awesome to see everyone finally come together. It was emotional in a fun and exciting way.”

Swim Takes Two Wins In Alaska

This article was originally published in ZU News.

APU’s swim team won their first two dual meets of the season in Alaska against the University of Alaska, Fairbanks with a score of 107-98 and 106-99.

“We came into the meet thinking we could win. We had a really positive attitude and we won both days,” senior Alyse Darnall said. “In the past three years, they’ve beat us, so it was cool to win both days this time.”

The Cougars had five first place finishes in the first meet on Oct. 20. These included junior Elodie Poo Cheong winning the 200-meter IM and the 100-meter freestyle, senior Rosalee Mira Santa Ana winning the 1000-meter free and 500-meter free and a team win in the 200-meter free relay.

“Personally, I didn’t do the best. But this meet wasn’t about times, it was about placing well. I didn’t have the best times this weekend, but that was okay,” Darnall said. “Elodie swam really well in her events. Our team really stepped it up this weekend.”

Swimming head coach Tim Kyle echoed Darnall’s team effort mentality.

“We had a very solid team effort. I’m content with where we’re at, but we have some work to do. I’m happy that our team really put forth their best effort at this point in the season. It was a good showing for us,” Kyle said. “We had a lot of people score points from the top to the bottom.”

Another member of the team that contributed greatly was junior Abigail Wiet.

“It went pretty well. I saw a lot of areas that I can build on. My times were all right. It just showed that I have some things to work on for the rest of the season,” Wiet said. “I’ve got some more training to do on my distance events. I need to get that extra push at the end of my events.”

Wiet won the 400-meter IM with a time of 4:43.11. She also finished as a runner-up in the 200-meter backstroke.

“I was just focused on the little things. It was a really good swim for me at this point in the season and it showed that my training has gone well,” Wiet said. “This team really battled through the meet today. Everyone did what they needed to do for us to win. It was really cool to see everyone contribute.”

Wiet said that she enjoyed the trip to Alaska because of how close it causes the team to get.

“I think it really brings us closer. It’s good team bonding. Alaska’s a good team, so it helps us figure out how we’re progressing through the season,” Wiet said.

Darnall said she also enjoyed the trip up north.

“It’s fun to get away from L.A., it can be super crowded and it’s nice to come out here,” Darnall said. “Being from Oregon, I love winter and it was nice to come up here and actually experience that before I go home for Thanksgiving.”

Kyle echoes how grateful he was for the team to get to go to Alaska every year.

“We’re just so blessed to come up here every year as a team. I’m really thankful to God for us to come up here and continually represent the university,” Kyle said.

The Cougars will return to APU to host their only home meet of the season against Biola on Nov. 4.

“I’m looking forward to being back at APU. When we’re at our home pool, we do really well,” Wiet said. “So I’m looking forward to some fast times, to see how much better we can get in the next two weeks.”

Kyle also noted the significance of hosting a meet at home.

“It’s always a great time for us to have a meet at home, to bring students and faculty to a meet. The team gets really excited about that,” Kyle said. “We’re looking forward to that support and seeing what we can do for the home crowd.”

Swim & Dive Has High Goals With New Faces

This article was originally published in ZU News.


The APU swim and dive team brought in six freshmen this year to join a team that sent seven total athletes to national competition last year.

Senior Alyse Darnall, the captain of the team, is looking forward to the season ahead of them.

“I’m really excited just to see how this team does. We have some really fast girls that have come on to the team this year,” Darnall said. “Swimming has been a part of our lives for a long time. For me, it’s been over 11 years and this is my last ‘hoorah’ in swim and in school.”

Darnall noted the misconception that swimming is only an individual sport.

“I’m excited to see how our team comes together,” Darnall said. “Swimming is an individual sport, but we do have to come together on a lot of things. In order for each of us to compete well individually, you need your team there supporting you.”

The team has been in the offseason since nationals wrapped up in March. Their season lasts from October through March, one of the longest seasons of any sport at APU.

“Going for six months out of the year, with doubles every day, gets really tiring and you get burnt out of the sport,” Darnall said.

To stay prepared in the offseason, Darnall practiced with her old club team in Oregon over the summer. She said that she also did a lot of CrossFit to stay in shape.

Darnall said she had a specific aspiration for the future.

“As a swimmer, there’s only been one goal that I’ve ever had. People always ask if I’m going to go to the Olympics. But the amount of swimmers that actually go to the Olympics is so small. I just kind of laugh when they ask that,” Darnall said. “My one goal is to go to nationals. I don’t care if that’s for a relay or an individual event, I just want to go for that experience.”

Darnall has been the leader of the team thus far, but she has gotten help from junior Nicole Johnson.

“Alyse is our only captain this year, so I’ve been helping her out with whatever she needs. Having that role of leadership on the team is good to make sure she isn’t alone,” Johnson said.

Johnson has been helping the freshmen get acclimated to the team at APU.

“So far they have all been really great. We’ve mixed up the lanes that we swim in with the freshmen,” Johnson said. “Just a chance to get to know them during a two hour practice has been really good so far.”

Johnson said she’s had fun getting to know the freshmen, but swimming in not always fun. She noted the struggle of balancing swimming and school.

“It’s really hard. I have swim, school and a job too. You have to have time management and wake up with a mentally positive attitude,” Johnson said. “Our coach is really gracious if we have to get out early to go to class, or have to finish an assignment.”

Johnson said that her motivation comes from the team’s success last season.

“We’re higher up in the standings than we were the past few years. Telling the freshmen that and telling ourselves that makes everyone want to work harder to achieve that goal at conference championships,” Johnson said.

On the diving side of the team, junior Rachel Johns has helped train two freshmen. The team is now double the size it was last year, with four divers.

“The freshmen are really great. Having two more people will be a good addition to the season,” Johns said. “Our team’s very close. During practice we’re all very encouraging, trying to help everyone reach their goals. We’re building off of one another.”

The team’s first meet of the season will be the Pacific Collegiate Swim Conference (PCSC) Relays and Pentathlon on Oct. 6-7 in La Mirada, Calif..

Swim & Dive Shines In PCSC Championship

This article originally appeared in ZU News.

The swim and diving team represented APU at the PCSC championships from Feb. 8–11 by qualifying a record number of swimmers and divers for national championships and finishing fourth overall.

Four swimmers qualified in the “B” cut in different events, two divers qualified and three separate relay teams could all be headed to nationals.

Junior distance swimmers Tamara Miller and Rosalee Mira Santa Ana both made the “B” cut in the 1650-yard free race. Miller set a school record with a time of 16:55.83, good for second overall at the championships. Santa Ana followed with a time of 17:18.01.

“On my four years on the swim team, this is the best we’ve ever done,” senior swim captain Heidi Zuniga said. “We have more girls that qualified for nationals this year than any other year. As a team we did awesome. We had some crazy fast times, a lot of season bests and personal bests.”

Sophomore Abigail Wiet made the “B” cut in the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 203.31, placing fifth overall. She also qualified for nationals in the 400-yard IM (all four strokes) with a time of 4:25.18, placing third in that event.

In the 100-yard free, sophomore Elodie Poo Cheong made the “B” cut with a time of 51.95, less than two tenths of a second away from breaking the school record. Poo Cheong also made the “B” cut in the 100-yard fly with a time of 56.27, accompanying fellow APU swimmer Angel Van Hofwegen who swam slightly faster with a time of 56.21.

“It’s amazing to see how the team has grown in the past four years and how many fast girls we keep getting,” Zuniga said. “Just to see the number of girls that go to nationals, it gets bigger every year. It’s great to see their hard work pay off.”

The Cougars also qualified in the 400-free relay team for nationals with “B” cut times. The foursome of Poo Cheong, Santa Ana, Alyse Darnall and Rachel Wasko qualified with a “B” cut time of 3:31.02.

Swimming head coach Tim Kyle noted the amount of swimmers who didn’t qualify for nationals, but who had a huge impact at the conference championships by scoring points in all their respective events and cheering for the rest of the team.

“We did amazing. With swimming there’s a lot of training that builds all up towards our conference finals,” Kyle said. “We had some tremendous swimmers and a lot of athletes added value not only through points but in spirit. It was just an amazing experience for everyone.”

Kyle emphasized the significance that the conference championships and nationals have for APU, earning the university and its athletes national recognition.

“I’m proud of our team, of how we competed, how we represented APU,” Kyle said. “And I’m thankful that God gave us a fantastic weekend, and that we were able to give it all back to God.”

He noted the high expectations he has for the swim team every year, and that they met all of these expectations at the championships.

The other half of the swim and dive team, the divers, also qualified two athletes for nationals. Junior Kianna Mourer and sophomore Rachel Johns swept the 1-meter dive competition. Mourer took first overall with a score of 269.60, winning the event for the third straight season. Johns placed second with a score of 252.40.

“It went really well for me,” Johns said. “The 1-meter was my strong point during the meet and I had a lot of fun competing in it. It was my best performance on 1-meter by far this season, so I was happy with that.”

Mourer also won the 3-meter dive competition with a score of 272.25. This was a meet record, as she won this event for the third straight year as well.

Both Mourer and Johns are headed to nationals for the second time together.

“I’m excited for nationals because I know how I have to perform to make it through, unlike last year when I didn’t know what to expect,” Johns said.

The diving team scored many points, which helped the team claim fourth overall. Although they do not practice together, Zuniga noted how close they are and important to each others’ success.

“The divers are a big reason why we got fourth overall. The points that they get really helps us out as a team. We wouldn’t have placed where we did without the divers,” Zuniga said. “It’s great to see swimmers have success, but we don’t really get to see how the divers do. When we’re able to see what they do, it’s amazing. We’re lucky to have the divers as part of our team.”

Zuniga and fellow senior swimmers Rachel Allison, Sydney Escalante, Ali Gomez and Brooke Miller all finished their final meet as Cougars on Saturday.

The final roster for Nationals will be announced on Feb. 20; “B” cuts are not final until then.

Swimmer One Step Closer To Olympic Dream

This article originally appeared in ZU News.

Azusa Pacific junior swimmer Rosalee Mira Santa Ana hopes to swim in the Olympics someday. While her next chance will not come for another four years, she got the opportunity to swim against Olympians at the 10th Annual Asian Swimming Championships in Tokyo from Nov. 14-20.

“It was a good experience to be a part of it because the Asian Championships are only every four years,” Santa Ana said. “To be given that chance to be there is a lifetime experience that I will always remember.”

Santa Ana represented the Philippines at the Asian championships and swam against athletes from over 33 countries across Asia and Europe. European countries were invited to participate as it was designated an “open meet.”

“I just really thank God for the opportunity that he blessed me with. I had lots of adversities that I went through during the semester, but He was able to help me and give me the strength I needed to swim very well,” Santa Ana said.

Santa Ana competed and placed in three events. She got 8th in the 800 meter freestyle (free), 11th in the 200 free and 12th in the 400 free.

“I’m really thankful for the times and places I got,” Santa Ana said. “Just to travel around the world was a cool thing.”

Santa Ana will get the chance to swim against Olympians again at the 13th International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Championships from Dec. 7-11 in Windsor, Canada.

Despite her excitement, Santa Ana said she feels pressure to compete well.

“I’m a little nervous, but it preps me up to be in these world level meets,” Santa Ana said. “Just being there makes me nervous. There’s a lot of things behind the scenes that you have to do.”

This process includes going through a warm room and cold room to prepare, and then walk through specific hallways to enter the pool area and get introduced on the big screen in front of thousands of spectators.

This will be Santa Ana’s first time competing at the world championships. She doesn’t see it as her last.

“The world championships are just the next step. It’s actually the step before reaching the Olympics. I feel like it’s a stepping stone to the highest dream that I’ve been trying to reach for,” Santa Ana said.

The Olympics have been a goal of Santa Ana’s for years. She said she wants to keep getting better until she reaches that level.

“My dream [has been] to be an Olympian ever since I was young. It’s a big dream that you always think of, but I wasn’t sure if it would be a reality. Just to be a part of world level meets make me feel really humbled,” Santa Ana said. “If God gives me the chance to be in the Olympics, that would definitely be a dream come true.”

Santa Ana holds the APU record for the 500 meter free, 1000 meter free and 1650 meter free events. Right now, she is focusing on cutting time in her events to qualify for the “A” group for the NCAA Championships.

“My goal is to qualify for the NCAA Championships this year. I’m very excited if I’m given that chance again,” Santa Ana said.

Santa Ana was not able to go to the NCAA championships last year, but she went as a freshman and ranked 25th in the nation for the 500 meter free and 1650 meter free events.

Head coach Tim Kyle said he has seen Santa Ana’s growth in her time at APU.

“She’s grown in every which way: In her faith, as an individual and really just being grounded in developing. She works tremendously hard in the pool,” Kyle said.

Kyle said Santa Ana is a great representation of APU and is a supportive teammate.

“I’m proud of her for the things that she’s accomplished and I know she’s going to do great things. She has the motivation and the skill, if it’s God’s will, she could reach or attain all the goals she has set for herself,” Kyle said.

Sophomore Elodie Poo Cheong has also helped Santa Ana as a friend and fellow swimmer.

“Rosalee is a hardworking and focused person. She knows what her goals are and she will work hard for them no matter what,” Poo Cheong said. “She’s also doing a great job at balancing her studies and swimming, which is hard at a collegiate level. Competing at an international level means a lot. All the work and sacrifices she put in are paying off.”

Poo Cheong speaks from experience, having also competed at the international level. She has only known Santa Ana for about a year, but said their friendship grows every day.

“We’re really close friends and we genuinely care about the other. We share a lot, whether fun times or less fun times. We push and encourage each other in and out of the water to become better swimmers and better people,” Poo Cheong said.

Along with her goals of making it to the Olympics and NCAA championships, Santa Ana hopes to inspire and teach others to swim one day. She wants to take the stories of these championships and help others learn with them. For right now though, she’s focused on the present.

“I’m just trying my best to take it a day at a time,” Santa Ana said. “Time goes by quickly.”

Santa Ana and Poo Cheong both helped APU close out 2016 by earning “B” cut times in the 500 free, 200 free, and 50 free in the Winter Invitational. The Cougars overall as a team are 3-2 on the season and will continue their season next semester, starting out with a meet against Cal State East Bay on Jan. 14.