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Talented trio helps Beavers' swimming sink Cardinals

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton boys swimmer Rodrigo Mejia-Hernandez won the 200 and 500 free for the Beavers against Lincoln on Thursday.

By the time Beaverton boys’ swimmer Rodrigo Mejia-Hernandez touched the wall and whirled around at the end of his triumphant 200 freestyle race against Lincoln, the rest of the field was just making the turn at the other side of the pool.

Mejia-Hernandez won the race by a pool length and had enough time to watch the remaining competitors whirl back toward him, with a suitable 1:53 finish and 12-second runaway rout in his hold.

Not too shabby taking into account the junior captain is just now regaining the state championship contender form he forged last season.

“The 200 free is my favorite race,”said Mejia-Hernandez. "I’ll take it fast that first 100. Then, I’ll take it out as much as I can in the third 50 (meters) because that’s the most important part. The last 50, is just whatever I have left to bring it home. Usually by then, everyone is somewhere else.”

Mejia-Hernandez took the summer off from swimming after eight years on the year-round club circuit. Then, the junior participated on the Beavers’ cross country team in the fall. And, while running miles on land was good for his lungs and cardiovascular endurance, Mejia-Hernandez said the lack of pool time plagued him in the preseason.

“I didn’t get in the water much,” said Mejia-Hernandez..“I had a coach who told me, ‘Every day you miss practice, it takes two to make it up.’ So far, that’s been true. When I got in the water for that first practice, I was like ‘Oh, this is going to be a long season.’ I’m getting back into it, though. I’m back to where I was last season. State’s roughly three weeks away, so I should be okay by then.”

However, the 2013 200 and 500 free state qualifier is starting to find his old form. In addition to participating in the Beavers’ afternoon practice, Mejia-Hernandez. puts himself through an early morning swim session and an extra dry-land workout that are bringing his times back down to where he wants them to be.

All of the seniors who competed against Mejia-Hernandez in the state championships are gone, so he’s trying to prep as much as possible for a return trip to Mount Hood Community College.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton boys swimmer Cortlandt Nelsen won the 200 individual medley against Lincoln on Thursday.

Tired and stressed with high school finals looming, Ben Newton really focused on his technique and leaned on his training to help the 200 individual medley and 400 free relays take first.

Newton — who also spurned the club swimming scene during the offseason — also won the 100 butterfly (1:02.89) and placed second in the 100 backstroke individually.

The victorious butterfly race was all about method, proficiency, and most notably survival Newton noted. Newton tries to maximize his underwater time, meaning once he kicks off of the wall, he stays below the surface and dolphin kicks to the middle of the pool. Past that point, Newton surfaces and uses the minimal amount of butterfly strokes the rest of the way.

“If you let go of the technique, you will die,” said Newton. “So, I stuck to my technique. You can conserve a lot of energy if you use quick, relaxed strokes. You don’t want to be tense, or you’ll lose energy quickly. I try to do between five to seven dolphin kicks off each wall and that gets it done.”

It came as a surprise when head coach Judy Rusaw said Newton would be compete in the butterfly against the Cardinals, though with Newton’s time, the Beaver could see himself competing in the district meet.

Mejia-Hernandez, Newton, Cortlandt Nelsen are the core of the Beaver boys relay teams, one that’s swum a lot of high-stakes races together in the past. The experience, specifically at the state level, has served the trio well.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton boys swimmer Ben Newton swam the 100 butterfly for the first time all year and won the race for the Beavers against Lincoln.

“If we all try our hardest and work hard in practice, we could probably go to state again,” said Newton. “Going to state is always a goal and we’ve been there before. We’re always involved in what the other person is doing. We’re all really supportive before and after we swim. On relays you feel especially responsible. You feel like you’re on a team, and you have to work for it to help your team. We work hard for each other because it feels good when we win as a team.”

Nelsen won the 100 breaststroke (1:04) and the 200 individual medley (2:08) in addition to being a participant on the winning relay teams. Nelsen went to state last year in both the 100 breast and 200 IM and Rusaw hopes each relay can qualify for state this season. Thomas Mia won the 50 free (25.26) and swam the freestyle leg of the 200 IM relay. Mia took second in the 200 free as well.

“They’re going to have to work really hard the next five weeks,” said Rusaw. “The conditions at state are so ideal for competition and that will help. Between now and then, it has to be the mental adjustment they’re going to be making when they get to that meet.”



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