Marcos Hillje-Enthoven will lead the Spartans back to the CIF Southern Section swimming playoffs.
Next year, he’s hoping to lead the Spartans to the NCAA Division II swimming playoffs.
It’s not as impossible as it sounds.
Hillje-Enthoven has his sights set on helping his Orcutt Academy Spartans make a return trip to CIF in a few weeks.
Then he’ll turn his attention to helping his next school, the University of Tampa Spartans, make it to the NCAAs.
On Friday, the Orcutt Academy senior signed his national letter of intent to attend the University of Tampa, a small private NCAA Division II university in downtown Tampa, Fla., on a swimming scholarship.
Hillje-Enthoven already has accomplished the first of those goals.
In a meet on Thursday, he swam to an automatic CIF qualifying time in the 500 freestyle.
He’s also earned CIF consideration times in three other events.
It will mark his fourth straight year of swimming in the CIF playoffs.
Along the way, Hillje-Enthoven has set six school individual or relay records with individual record times in the 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley and 500 free and team records as part of the 200 IM, 200 free and 400 free relays teams.
“Marcos hasn’t lost this year,” said OAHS Athletic Director Chad McKenzie. “We’ve always had a strong girls’ team (in the school’s 10-year history). The girls’ team is still strong but now with the leadership of Marcos and our other boys' captains - Keshaun Patel and Cuin McCann — we’re strong on the boys’ side, too. Marcos is not just a top swimmer, he’s also an excellent student. I am so proud of what Marcos has accomplished.”
“California has such excellent swimming programs — the kids are really fast — and if you make it to CIF the coaches from across the country start looking at you,” said Hillje-Enthoven’s mother Brittany, a varsity coach at OAHS.
An eight year veteran of the Santa Maria Swim Club team, Hillje-Enthoven has already spent some time swimming in Florida.
He recently made his third trip to the Junior Nationals in Orlando, Fla.
“The Junior Nationals helped prepare me for the next level,” said Hillje-Enthoven. “They have thousands of kids swimming there and there is so much competition.”
The Junior Nationals trips also helped bring him to the attention of the Tampa coaching staff.
“Their coaches reached out to me. I also looked at schools in Illinois and Las Vegas,” said Hillje-Enthoven. “But I really liked the atmosphere at Tampa. Their aquatic center is small but it’s a nice facility. All their coaches are really nice. I liked that it’s a small school — it’s only a 10 minute walk from one end of the campus to the other.
“And I wanted a change of weather. I like the weather in Tampa. They get a lot of rain and lightning — I like lightning.”
The school will also allow Hillje-Enthoven to get the education he wants.
“I’ll major in athletic training and kinesiology. I’d like to be able to teach athletes about proper training and nutrition and to help them recover from injuries,” said Hillje-Enthoven. “Tampa has small classes and a nice dorm — I like that is has an elevator. I can get the education I want and also great coaching that might help me take swimming to the next level.”
A level that could include a future Olympics.
“That would be a major dream,” said Hillje-Enthoven.
Hillje-Enthoven comes from a swimming family.
His mother swam for Righetti High school, his father Rick is Orcutt Academy’s head swim coach and younger brother Mason, a seventh grader at Orcutt Junior High, swims for the Santa Maria Swim Club.
“Marcos has worked so hard to get where he’s at,” said Brittany Hillje-Enthoven. “We’re so proud of him.”
While Hillje-Enthoven plans to move all the way across the country, one thing won’t change — the school mascot.
“It will be good to stay a Spartan,” said Hillje-Enthoven.