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The seven members of the Santa Maria Swim Club team who are going to the Junior National Summer Championships pose for a photo after a recent workout. The seven are (front row, from left) Izzie Fraire, Alayna Gocke and Saray Brown; and (back row, from left) Austin Aguirre, Blake Simpson, Marcos Hillje-Enthoven, Wyatt Marsalek and Head Coach Mike Ashmore.

Patricia Fraire, Contributed Photo

The future is bright for the Santa Maria Swim Club.

The immediate future is on the minds of seven of the club’s standouts.

The seven  four boys and three girls  qualified for the National Club Swimming Association (NCSA) Junior National Summer Championships.

The competition takes place at the Indiana University Natatorium on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus, Tuesday through Saturday, Aug. 1-5.

“Just being at this level puts you in some new company. This is serious competition,” said Santa Maria Swim Club head coach Mike Ashmore. “There are no age groups in this competition. The swimmers are just split into boys and girls. If you’re fast enough, you can make it to Indianapolis.”

Between 1,200 and 1,500 swimmers will be at the Junior Nationals.

Most will be between the ages of 12 and 15.

“There is an occasional 12-year-old, some 13-year-olds but, for the most part, it is 15 and up,” said Ashmore.

The top 24 in each event will make it to the final round.

“Just making it into the final round puts you in some pretty elite company,”

The Junior Nationals are a long course event, held in a 50-meter Olympic size pool.

Typical high school races are held on short courses, measured in yards — usually 25  instead of meters.

The SMSC’s national qualifiers are; Austin Aguirre, Blake Simpson, Marcos Hillje-Enthoven, Wyatt Marsalek, Izzie Fraire, Alayna Gocke and Saray Brown.

Austin Aguirre

Aguirre, 15, is a student at Nipomo’s New Tech High School.

“Austin will be racing in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. He’ll race in other events but those are his main two,” said Ashmore. “He’s swimming about 1:10 for the 100 and 2:30 in the 200. He’ll be fighting for a spot in the finals.”

Blake Simpson

Simpson, 15, is also a student at New Tech.

His primary races are the 400 and 1,500 freestyle.

“I expect he’ll be in the top 24 when we get to Indianapolis,” said Ashmore.

Marcos Hillje-Enthoven

Hillje-Enthoven, 16, is a student at Orcutt Academy.

He’ll be racing in the 100 and 200 butterfly.

“He made it for the first time at the spring championships. He’ll be getting even more experience in Indianapolis. The competition is really tight but I’m expecting him to move up,” said Ashmore. “If you drop just one second of time, you’ll probably move up 10 spots.”

Wyatt Marsalek

Marsalek, 17, is a junior from Santa Maria who attends New Tech.

He’ll compete in the 400 and 1,500 free.

“Wyatt won the 500 free at the CIF Southern Section championships and went to the state meet. Back in March, Wyatt finished sixth in the short course 1,650 (yards)  swimming’s version of the mile,” said Ashmore. “I expect he’ll be very competitive in both the 400 and 1,500.”

The four boys have also qualified for the 800 free relay.

Izzie Fraire

Fraire, 16, is a student at Righetti High.

She will swim the 100 and 200 breast.

“I think Izzie is looking at the top 24 in both events,” said Ashmore. “She should be in the mix, in the hunt for the finals in both events.”

Alayna Gocke

Gocke, 18, is a New Tech graduate who just completed her first year at UC San Diego.

“She doesn’t turn 19 until after the meet, so she’s still eligible,” said Ashmore. “She’ll race in the 100, 200 and 400 free and I know she’ll be in the mix to make the finals in all three.”

Saray Brown

Brown just celebrated her 15th birthday and will be a sophomore at Pioneer Valley in the fall.

“Saray will race in the 100 and 200 breast. She should be pretty competitive in both,” said Ashmore.

“This is valuable experience for all our swimmers. It’s part of the process. The kids are always developing, improving,” said Ashmore. “This will show them where they stack up against the best young swimmers in the world. Even Josh Prenot went through it. He didn’t win when he started but he learned and kept moving up.”

Prenot is a Santa Maria native and UC Berkeley graduate who began his career at the SMSC.

His last major stop was Rio de Janeiro where he won a silver medal in the 200 breast as part of the US Olympic Team.

“Josh has come back to the club. He’s a great example for our kids,” said Ashmore. “Every one of these seven kids practiced with Josh when they were much younger, five or six years ago. They saw him go to the Olympic trials in 2012. They watched right from our (Paul Nelson) pool as he pursued his dream, saw it go to fruition last summer. They’ve all realized that it’s not an overnight thing, but you can do it  you can compete on the biggest stage.”

Getting to the Junior Nationals doesn’t come cheap.

Ashmore says he expects it will cost about $7,200 to send the team to Indianapolis.

“We’re always fundraising but it snuck up on us a little bit when we qualified seven to go to the Junior Nationals,” said Ashmore. “So we’re looking for some financial assistance. If people want to help, that would be fantastic,” said Ashmore. “And if any businesses want to contribute, we’ll put their logo on our Junior Nationals T-shirts for a donation of $250 or more.

Contributions can be made through the SMSC website

You can also call Ashmore to make a donation or for more information at (805) 928-9655.

Elliott Stern is the Sports Editor for the Santa Maria Times. If you have a story idea or photos that you would like to share, you can email him or connect with him on Twitter @SMTSidelines


Senior Sports Reporter