By Phillip Brents
Build it and they will … swim.
Southwestern College's new aquatics complex has definitely helped elevate water sports locally into the next millennium.
The new complex, which opened last spring, has been going seemingly non-stop with in-house water safety classes and club program events as well as providing a home base for the Sweetwater Union High School District's aquatic programs, including water polo, swimming and diving.
The college's aquatics programs also use the new facility.
The impact is already being felt on campus.
Southwestern College's women's water polo team is experiencing one of its most successful seasons in a decade or more.
The Lady Jaguars defeated defending Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champion San Diego Mesa on Wednesday (Oct. 23) to improve to 2-2 in conference play, 9-5 overall.
Southwestern closes out regular season conference play with a game this coming Wednesday (Oct. 30) at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, then will compete in the Rio Hondo mini-tournament on Nov. 1 before hosting the PCAC championship finals Nov. 8-9 at the new campus pool.
Grossmont College hosted last year's conference finals at the SWC aquatics program.
Southwestern women's head coach Alissa Mashburn could not understate the importance of competing on campus in a showcase environment.
"It was huge to have the team win at home, to send our sophomores on to the PCAC finals – it was their last home game," Mashburn said after Wednesday's 8-4 win over the Lady Olympians.
Freshman Alma Castillo (Eastlake) led SWC in scoring with three goals while freshman Jasmyn Austin (Bonita Vista) scored two goals. Freshman Savannah Collum (Hilltop) and sophomore Caitlin Torres (Hilltop) both scored one goal.
Sophomore goalie Odette Ortega (Eastlake) was credited with nine blocks and two steals.
The teams finished the first quarter tied 2-2 before the Lady Jags managed to double the score to 6-3 at halftime. The hosts eventually built an 8-3 lead heading into the final quarter.
Mesa, which is fielding a young team this season, fell to 0-3 in PCAC play, 4-15 overall.
Southwestern opened conference play with an 18-9 loss at Grossmont on Sept. 25 and followed with a 10-7 home loss to Palomar on Oct. 2. The Lady Jaguars defeated host Miramar College, 9-5, on Oct. 9 to record their first conference win of the season.
Grossmont (12-2 overall) currently tops the PCAC standings with a 4-0 record, followed by Palomar at 3-1 (10-8 overall), Southwestern at 2-2, Miramar at 1-3 (9-9 overall) and Crafton Hills (1-9 overall) and Mesa both at 0-3.
The victory against Mesa was Southwestern's fourth consecutive after defeating Palomar, 13-12, and Pasadena City, 8-5, in the San Diego Classic tournament Oct. 5 at Miramar College, and tacking on the conference win over Miramar during the following week.
Castillo, Johnson and Rockwell each scored two goals in the win over Miramar.
Scoring leaders for the Lady Jags include Austin with 28 goals and nine assists, Johnson with 20 goals and 15 assists, Torres with 18 goals and 14 assists, freshman Daniela Diaz (Hilltop) with nine goals and nine assists, Julissa Diaz with five goals and 10 assists, freshman Brianna Jones (Eastlake) with eight goals and six assists, Rockwell with nine goals and four assists and Collum with 11 goals and one assist.
Ortega has started 13 games with an 8-5 record and .493 save percentage.
Ortega, Torres and Jazmin Glaman (Eastlake) are the team's three sophomores.