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Graduating Seniors

 2022 High School Graduates 

As our high schools seniors start to finalize their post-grad plans we will update this page. Each high school senior is asked a series of questions. The questions are below. This is the first group of seniors to graduate from the Polar Bears. Congratulations to the class of 2022! We could not be more proud of you!

  1. What is your favorite and least favorite event and why?

  2. What is your favorite pre workout snack?

  3. What is your fondest swimming memory?

  4. What are your plans for the upcoming year?

  5. What advice would you like to leave your teammates?

Theo Vandenberg

 

What is your favorite and least favorite event and why?

My favorite event is the 200 Medley Relay. Firstly, I love the team aspect is such a fast race. Every leg of the race gets to swim 110% and cheer on the rest of race. I am also usually the free leg, the anchor, and when those races come down to me against the other teams final leg is when I swim my best. Not only is everyone cheering like crazy, but my three teammates have already done all that they can to set me up for a good swim. 

My least favorite event would have to be the 100 back LCM, it time between the flags feels like forever and you have nothing to do except hope you’re getting close to the walls.

 

What is your favorite pre workout snack?

My go-to pre workout snack has to be peanut butter on a rice cracker with a BodyArmor strawberry banana drink. The perfect mix of carbs, protein, and a little bit of sugar to get me going. 

 

What is your fondest swimming memory?

King Banana. This unofficial award is a rarity in competitive swimming, as it is only presented for coming in first for a consolation final after being seeded last. At WAG’s of 2021, I placed 19th with a disappointing swim in the 100 free, yet it was enough to be scratched into the finals that night. Being down on myself I looked to my teammates to help pick me up and with some encouraging words from my coach’s I was ready for a better night swim. Even without a best time, I truly felt I had left everything out there on that swim and ended up winning the b heat. Not only was I proud of the swim, but I was grateful for the team I was able to represent.  

 

4.What are your plans for the upcoming year?

In the fall, I plan to attend Fordham University  to continue my swim and athletic career. In the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham I will exploring major options as well business opportunities. I look forward to swimming with a D1 program and competing in the A10’s. 

 

What advice would you like to leave your teammates?

My advice would be to set small goals and understand your “why” If you think too big picture it all becomes daunting and seemingly unattainable. With small goals, even in practice, such as “I’m going to under water to the red off every wall today” or at the next meet trying a new pre race routine. Everyone has a different end goal for their swimming career, and not everyone reaches every goal, but understanding the sacrifices you have to make to reach those goals is extremely important. Reminding yourself of the “why” can help you push through those rough mornings and grueling sets. Even writing those reasons down so that you can visualize them can be a huge help. 

 

I wish you all the best of luck!

 

Kelly Wilson

What is your favorite and least favorite event and why?

My favorite event is definitely the short-course 100 backstroke. This was the first individual race I qualified in, for SoCal Junior Olympics, so it forever holds a place in my heart. I also love how fast-paced this race is, and how I can push off the wall and see all of my incredible teammates cheering me on to the other side. Although it is an exhausting race, I love that it always challenges me and the training I’ve put in. My least favorite race is probably the long-course 100 freestyle. This is such a rapid race, and I can never seem to figure out a good strategy that helps me improve my time. You also have only one wall to flip off of, and it feels like miles between each end.

What is your favorite pre workout snack?

My favorite pre-workout snack is definitely either a GoMacro Bar in the oatmeal chocolate chip flavor, or a tortilla roll-up with peanut butter and jelly. Both snacks give me a boost before a tough practice, and I always accompany my pre-workout meals with lots of cold water for hydration!

What is your fondest swimming memory?

I am so lucky to say that I have an endless amount of swimming memories that I will carry with me forever. From practices where I laughed like crazy with my teammates, to ocean swims, to priceless senior trips, I have so many memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. However, one of my favorite memories is the final relays of Winter Age Group Championships in 2021. Although I didn’t swim the best this weekend, I had so much fun with these last relays. We were all exhausted and physically drained, but we all took our energy to swim our hardest, and we were so ecstatic to cheer for one another. We were all encouraging each other, and showing our competitors our fierce, fun-loving spirit.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?

In the fall, I am so excited to say that I will be attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and the plan is to study either Applied Nutrition or Public Health, with a minor in Child Development. I am so excited to embrace this new adventure and the next chapter of my life!

What advice would you like to leave your teammates?

There is SO much I could say for this question, I think I could write for hours. I would say that the advice I would leave for my teammates would be to always, always, always lift your teammates up and lift yourself up. We will always be a PVPB family, and we have a bond that is unbreakable. Support your teammates through thick and thin, celebrate your achievements, and be a rock for one another during the hard times. Remind your teammates and coaches that they are appreciated, and uplift one another, so that we can be an even stronger group. Similarly, always make sure that you are cheering yourself on, and you believe in yourself and your training. I hope you all remember that you are phenomenally willed, and you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. Always remember to enjoy your time in the pool, and have fun! These times with your teammates are priceless, and make sure you cherish every single moment.

I know that every one of you will achieve such incredible things, and know that I am always cheering for you. Have tons of fun, swim fast, and put your heart into everything you do. I am so stoked to see where you will all go, and I know the paths for each of you are so bright!

Clarissa Breard

1. What is your favorite and least favorite event and why?
My favorite event is probably either the 200 fly or 500 free. I know, I sound crazy (maybe I
am) but these events have made me the swimmer and person I am today. My love runs
deep for these races because people typically run from them. I started out as one of those
people. The 200 fly was a decision at the last minute that did not excite me. Overall, I won
the race and had a pretty good time too! I ended up falling in love with the race because I
was a good flyer but better at long distance, this was the perfect in between. The 200 fly
became the event I qualified for Winter Age Groups and Junior Olympics and changed my
life completely. My first 500 free was when I was 9 years old and figured out the night
before I was swimming the next day. I cried all day because I wanted to scratch it. My
amazing teammates stayed to time and lap count me. Although it is an individual race, I
love the idea of community behind the scenes. It takes a community of people for one
person to swim the 500. You need a timer, your coach keeping pace and someone to lap
count. It’s a long and brutal race to get through but you have that team of itself supporting
you the whole 20 laps. It’s also fun not to not think about what lap you’re on but to just
keep swimming. I was able to compete in the 500 all four years of high school swimming
and loved every second of it. The community of love and support was my main motivation.
My least favorite event is probably the 200 freestyle because it’s a distance race but also
just long enough to where it’s a sprint. I do not recommend doing the 200 freestyle back to
back with the 500 freestyle for school because it made my swim season this year brutal.


2. What is your favorite pre workout snack?
For years I struggled finding the perfect pre workout snack since I’m allergic to nuts and
most amazing workout snacks have nuts in them. For me, I love any fruit, specifically
Kirkland dried mangoes from Costco since they don’t expire easily or cheese.


3. What is your fondest swimming memory?
What a loaded question. There’s so many core memories that I have attached to swimming.
Overall, I believe that Winter Age Group’s 2021 had one of the biggest impacts on me. Just a
couple days before I was starting to develop concerning back problems and wasn’t sure if I
was going to be able to compete. The doctor cleared me but said “don’t exceed your limits”.
Typically, I always push myself above and beyond but this time I had to do it differently. I
pushed myself to be the best, most supportive teammate I could be. Being able to go to a
travel meet was exhilarating. I met so many swimmers on our team that I had never seen
before and saw them perform to the best of their abilities. When I started at Porter Valley
Polar Bears, there was a time when I was the entire team competing at Winter Age Groups.
Seeing the growth of the team left me awestruck the whole weekend. The growth not only
in the water, but outside as closest friends. That weekend I did not perform well and gained
time on every race and placed last in every event. However, I left Oceanside with joy and
grateful I was able to swim. I remember walking up to all of the coaches after the 200 fly
and saying, “that was not my best race, and it was SO hard. But I had fun being in the water

with my friends.” Ultimately, that weekend I learned that you never know how much you
love swimming until you lose the ability to do it.
4. What are your plans for the upcoming year?
I am excited to announce that I have committed to University of Dayton in Ohio and study
Health Science to in the future become a Physical or Occupational Therapist! On campus, I
am committed to their faith leadership team and have plans to join the club swim team. I
will also be completing my and receiving Gold Award for Girl Scouts within the next couple
of months.
5. What advice would you like to leave your teammates?
There are a multitude of words of advice I have for my teammates. Fostering a
community of family spirit and balance is the most important lesson I have learned. I
cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get to know your teammates. I specially
use the word “family” because in your family you know everyone of all ages, those younger
and those older than you. Younger swimmers, get to know your older teammates. They
have been you and whatever you might be going through, they will be able to provide
advice and comfort. Older swimmers, get to know your younger teammates, you were
them. As you get older remembering the reason you love swimming can be difficult. You
can re-experience and gain new perspectives from the younger swimmers. We are one
team, one family. Cheer each other on. Unconditionally love each other. We’re stronger
together. Being an incredible swimmer isn’t just about what you do in the water, but how
you reflect yourself outside. I allowed people to only identify me as a swimmer for years
when I am so much more. I know each of you are more than just a swimmer. Don’t be afraid
to try new things and get out there in the world. No matter what you decide to do with your
life, your polar bears will always be your biggest fan. I’m proud to call you my teammates! I
love you all so much! Swim fast and HAVE FUN!