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1997 GIRLS' SWIMMING AND DIVING / PREVIEW

Barnard Brings Excitement to Laguna Hills' Program

March 07, 1997|ERIK HAMILTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAGUNA HILLS — Susan Lords can't help but get excited about the latest addition to the Laguna Hills High girls' swim team.

"Shauna Barnard is definitely the best freshman this school has ever had. I can't wait to see what kind of season we're going to have," said Lords, who has been coaching the team six years.

"We have a lot of talent on this team. But it's not just the club swimmers. There's a lot of kids who are ready for the season."

In addition to Barnard, Lords has high hopes for Nicole Wieland and Carla Rodriguez.

But it's Barnard that makes Lords giddy about the prospects for this season.

Barnard, who has an Olympic trials time in the 400-meter individual medley and a senior national time in the 200 IM, is busy training with her club, Gator Aquatics in Laguna Hills. She's preparing for junior nationals at Texas A & M next week.

Barnard's love affair with swimming started at age 8. Her parents enrolled her in a summer program.

"I loved swimming the moment I started," Barnard said. "I remember I loved it so much that the more I swam, the more I wanted to get better at it."

Barnard said her parents realized that summer swimming wasn't going to be enough, and started to consider year-round swim clubs.

Bernard started at Nellie Gail Swim Club in Laguna Hills, which then was run by former Olympian Cathy Ferguson. Later, Nellie Gail merged with Gator Aquatics Swim Club.

"I've been working with Shauna since 1992 when she was at Nellie Gail," said Renee Riggs, who with her husband, Vince, coach the 14-year-old Laguna Hills girl. "Her progress has been pretty steady and very consistent. And I think she can be one of the best in the sport."

Barnard got her senior national and Olympic trial times at the summer junior nationals last August in Santa Clara. There, Barnard won the 400 IM in 4 minutes 55.47 seconds. Her time in the 200 IM was 2:22.36.

Although Barnard downplays her recent times, her accomplishments at the Santa Clara meet are impressive considering that she had been battling shoulder problems.

"She was having trouble with tendinitis, so we let her recuperate by backing off of her workout with lower yardage and cutting her workout time in the pool," Riggs said. In addition, Barnard took two months off swimming for physical therapy.

Barnard says her shoulder is feeling much better. And she can't wait for the high school season to begin. For now, until junior nationals are over, Barnard will be swimming exclusively with the Gator Aquatic Club, but once she comes back from Texas, she'll be able to compete at all the high school dual meets and other events.

"I met a lot of my high school team members already, and a lot of them also work out with different clubs in Orange County," Barnard said. "It looks like we'll have a good team. Like I already know Nicole [Wieland], and I know she's good in middle distance."

At the Southern Section meet last year, Wieland, a senior, placed third in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 free in the Division II finals.

Barnard said she doesn't think there is anybody on the club level she hasn't competed against in the last five years. In fact, at 12, she was already competing against collegiate and nationally ranked swimmers.

"I know them all. Amanda [Beard] is a good friend of mine, so it's not like I've never seen these people before. Instead of a club, it's high school," Barnard said.

Although winning for Laguna Hills is important, Barnard said her bottom line is having fun and taking part in the entire high school experience.

"I know people whose life is just swimming. All they do is swim and stay home all the time. I can't do that," Barnard said. "I have to go out and do other things with my friends. My parents understand that and they're cool about that."

Girls' Swimming at a Glance

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