The Santa Maria Swim Club's distance team members are going after spots in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials.

SMSC head coach and general manager Mike Ashmore said before a Friday practice at Paul Nelson Aquatic Center that two of those members, Parker Reynolds and Blake Simpson, are close to meeting the men's standards in the 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyle events. All Olympic swimming events are in meters.

"Parker is about five seconds off the 1,500 and 800 standards," said Ashmore. "Blake is right behind him. Parker is about 2.5 seconds off the 400 standard, and Blake is about a second behind him. They're right there."

Besides Reynolds and Simpson, three more members of the SMSC distance team, Marcos Hillje-Enthoven, Keshaun Patel and Wyatt Marsalek, will also be swimming at the Futures Championships in Oregon this week.

Though he does swim distance, Hillje-Enthoven said his favorite event is the 200 butterfly. "Keshaun and Wyatt are both primarily 800 and 1,500-meter swimmers," said Ashmore.

"Having a lot of swimmers swim the same events makes it easier," said Ashmore. "Their workouts are similar, and they're there to encourage each other."

"The SMSC distance swimmers have their own community," said Reynolds.

Ashmore said the window is open to June 1 of 2020 for swimmers to qualify for the Olympics. The five SMSC distance swimmers will compete at the Futures Meet Aug. 1-4, and Parker and Simpson will swim soon after that at the U.S. Junior Olympics that takes place Aug. 5-10 at Stanford.

"Three of the guys will leave to go back to college right after the Futures Meet," said Ashmore.

All three will be college sophomores during the 2019-2020 school year, Hillje-Enthoven at the University of Tampa, Patel at Hancock College and Marsalek at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

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"I'm excited that I'm going to be part of the first Hancock men's swimming team," said Patel. Men's swimming will debut as a Hancock sport in 2020.

Hillje-Enthoven and Patel both graduated from Orcutt Academy. Marsalek, Simpson and Reynolds all swam for Nipomo High School, though Simpson, who will be a high school senior next year, attends Central Coast New Tech, which is next to Nipomo High.

Marsalek swam for the 2018 Nipomo team that won the CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship. He finished sixth in the mile at the Mountain West Conference Meet in 2019.

"I like the endurance aspect of it," Marsalek said of swimming longer distances.

"You have to keep a pace that is pretty close to full speed for a long period of time," and he likes that, Patel said of swimming distance races.

The longest high school race is 500 yards, but the SMSC quintet said the difference between high school swimming and distance swimming at the next level phases them not at all.

The difference "doesn't change our training at all," said Simpson. Though he competes for Nipomo during the high school season, Simpson said he trains with the SMSC during that time. Simpson, then a junior, and Reynolds, a freshman, both qualified for the 2019 high school state meet in the 500.

Reynolds said he is transferring to Righetti for his sophomore year but, "I won't swim competitively during the high school season. I want to concentrate on trying to qualify for the Olympics."

The SMSC distance contingent established its depth at earlier meets this summer.

"We went 1-through-5 in the 1,500 at the Arena Grand Challenge Meet in Clovis earlier this month, and all five of us finished in the top eight (at that distance) at the Summer Sanders Long Course Meet in Roseville last June," said Patel.

Reynolds won the 1,500 at the Arena Grand Challenge Meet. Simpson was the top SMSC swimmer in the event at the Summer Sanders meet. He finished second. 

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