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He's Got Pull

Talent Pool Isn't Deep at Calvary Chapel, but Louvier's Times Are Turning Some Heads

March 27, 1998|ERIK HAMILTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COSTA MESA — Josh Louvier is Calvary Chapel's best hope in swimming. He doesn't like to admit it, but his coach and certainly his teammates on the swim team know it.

Although his times don't compare to some posted by the county's elite, his performance is as vital to his team as any of the county's top competitors to their teams.

"He only works out with us on Saturdays, but when he's there, he gives so much in his willingness to help the team," said Mike Soderlund, Calvary Chapel's first-year coach. "He has a big heart and he's very humble, and I can't begin to tell how much his presence means to this team."

Louvier, a junior, was a Times all-county second-team selection last year, and holds all of the boys' swim records at Calvary Chapel. When not competing for the Eagles, Louvier swims for his club team, Los Caballeros in Fountain Valley.

Louvier said he's more than happy to give the Eagles all he has to offer. But at times, it can be frustrating. Especially when only 12 swimmers make up the boys' varsity squad and the Eagles are forced to swim an independent schedule because there is no Olympic League for swimming.

Said Soderlund: "Because we don't belong to a league and our current status is independent, many teams are reluctant to compete against us.

"It's tough when we don't have the meets to compete in, especially for someone like Josh. But he's been good about the whole situation."

At last week's Capistrano Valley relays, Calvary Chapel struggled but Louvier's relay split times turned some heads.

"I had coaches coming up to me and asking me who that guy was," said Soderlund, the team's fourth coach in five years. "I guess that's one good thing when your team isn't in the spotlight. You get a lot of surprises when you swim at meets."

Calvary Chapel's swim program is still in its infancy. It started with 19 members in 1993.

Last year, the boys' team finished fifth at the Southern Section Division III finals. The 200-meter freestyle relay team--Louvier, David and Daniel Cornwell and Johan Vonholst--took first place at section finals with a time of 1 minute 28.36 seconds. That was just a few 10ths behind that of Division I winner Santa Margarita, which included standout Philippe Demers, The Times Orange County swimmer of the year.

Although Louvier is proud of last year's performance, he'll be the first to say he doesn't like dwelling on the past.

"Well, we lost some good swimmers [to graduation]. In fact, we lost all of our good swimmers," he said. "But we have some people who want to swim this year, and that's important."

Calvary Chapel isn't Irvine or Mission Viejo, where club swimmers are the core of the team's strength. Louvier is the only club swimmer on the Eagle boys' team.

In fact, some of the team's swimmers have experience of a far different nature. Like Josh Saul and Mike Bigrigg, who finished second and third at the state wrestling finals this month.

"They just like to swim, I guess," said Louvier. "That Saul, he's so big and strong. You kind of wonder how good he could be in the freestyle. He jumps in and swims like crazy."

More than likely, Calvary Chapel will not qualify any of its relay teams for the Southern Section finals this year. But Louvier still wants to make his mark in the 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke and 50 free.

"I first have to get my qualifying times. And since we only have six meets, it doesn't give me a lot of time," Louvier said. Fountain Valley, a Division I school, has more than 25 meets scheduled this season.

"I should be able to get Southern Section times in every event. But since we probably won't be able to make it in relays, I want to do my best in the individual events. I want to help my school the best I can."

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