Graduating Seahawks head off to fresh waters | August 16, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Sports - August 16, 2013

Graduating Seahawks head off to fresh waters

Rigorous schedule taught them life lessons, say swimmers

by Erika Simonds

The 12 graduating Pleasanton Seahawks say their passion for swimming has equipped them with life skills. They have certainly learned time management, juggling a rigorous weekly swim schedule of roughly 20 hours a week with academic excellence, family and friends.

Asked what they learned from the Seahawks, each swimmer had something insightful to say.

* Maggie Woods: "It isn't just about getting best times, this sport has taught me how to stay dedicated, and how to work as hard as my body will physically allow." She will be swimming for St. Bonaventure.

* Nick Johnston: "Persistency is essential for success. Everyone inevitably experiences failure during life; what determines your ability to succeed is your willingness to try again." Nick will be swimming for Brown University, majoring in chemistry.

* Chris Fernainy: "Swimming taught me to push myself not only at the pool but in my everyday life." Chris will be swimming for UC Santa Cruz, studying biomedical engineering.

* Cayla Jetter: "Through hard work and dedication you really can see what you can do and reach your full potential." Cayla will be swimming for Texas A&M.

* Abby McGuire: "Swimming has taught me to stay motivated and be a team player when it comes to encouraging my teammates to push themselves." Abby will be attending Villanova University, majoring in biology/pre-med.

* Clayton Young: "This lesson of hard work leading to success has been one of the most valuable lessons I have learned." Clayton will be swimming for UC Santa Barbara.

* Marissa Bergh: "What I gained most was a second family who would support me when I most needed it." Marissa will be swimming for Emory.

* Jason Chen: "I think spending time with the team was the best part of swimming. Hanging out with people who have chosen the same path you have chosen is something special." Jason will be swimming for University of Michigan.

* James Thompson: "I consider everyone I've swam with a best friend, because we are all hard workers and that's what has kept me motivated throughout the years." James will be swimming for Dartmouth, studying biomedical engineering.

The Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center is home to these swimmers. Swimming four mornings a week before dawn and six afternoons, they spend many hours together so when asked what they gained most, the answer was unanimous: a second family.

The departing swimmers eagerly shared their favorite memories. Some of those swimming at the Elite level recalled going as far as Dubai while others traveled to Southern California and throughout the U.S. Head Coach Steve Morsilli was also mentioned in many favorite memories.

"One of my favorite memories is when Steve promised us a 'great reward' if we swam fast enough in practice," recalled Nick Johnston. "After a grueling workout, he stood by his word and awarded each swimmer who did well with a shiny new penny."

"One of my favorite experiences was the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.," Celina Li said. "It was an honor to compete against the top swimmers from across the United States." Celina will be swimming for UC Berkeley.

"My favorite experience was the trip to Dubai. We were in a whole new environment and saw so many different faces in and out of the pool. We had fun in our hotel rooms, making turbans out of our shawls," Kirsten Brand recalled. Kirsten will be swimming for UC Davis.

Bernadine Martin will be swimming at UC Irvine.

These seniors participated in community service and were honored in many ways for their outstanding achievements, ranging from the President's Award for Academic Excellence, USA Swimming Scholastic All American, certificates for 4.0 GPA's, and more.

Coach Steve Morsilli says: "Believe you belong." These exceptional athletes believe they belong.

For more information about the Pleasanton Seahawks, visit


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