San Clemente Aquatics team will compete in this year’s Ocean Festival competitions. Photo: Danny Ritz
San Clemente Aquatics team will compete in this year’s Ocean Festival competitions. Photo: Danny Ritz

By Danny Ritz          

San Clemente’s inauguration in the 1920’s, named as the “theater to the stage of the sea” by founder Ole Hanson, is a piece of history not forgotten by San Clemente Aquatics Head Coach, Goran Westerlund.

“Swimming here is like walking elsewhere. It’s essential.”

The San Clemente Aquatics team will be a noticeable presence in the 2017 Ocean Festival, having encouraged its team members 11 years and older to participate in the many swimming events, most notably the daunting one-mile ocean swim.

The integration of this formidable cross-training challenge has been spearheaded largely by Assistant Coach Brittany Vocke. A former collegiate swimmer at George Mason University, as well as All-American Triathlete and All-World recognized Ironman competitor herself, Vocke is excited to see her athletes recognized in one of their town’s own premier events.

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“We want to show that we are helping the youth of San Clemente become well-rounded, disciplined and talented athletes, as well as safe community members.”

This emphasis on safety was seconded by Westerlund. “Swimming is the fundamental base of almost all of the aquatic activities that San Clemente is renowned for across the world.”

The addition of Ocean Fest and its athletic competitions correlates with the positive evolution of San Clemente Aquatics from its founding in 1975.

Around 2010, San Clemente Aquatics received a state-of-the-art Olympic quality facility with the support of the City of San Clemente, of which they are considered a “senior partner.”

Under Westerlund and his coaching staff, the Club has grown to over 300 members and is a regional competitive powerhouse with multiple nationally ranked swimmers qualifying for such events as the United States Nationals and Junior Olympics.

Westerlund’s pride was evident when asked to comment concerning San Clemente’s presence in the Southern California competitive sphere, a historic breeding ground for world class swimmers.

“Previously, clubs from surrounding areas such as San Juan Capistrano and Irvine, pool-oriented communities, have been dominant,” said Westerlund. “This is an ocean-centric community; we sort of had to go the other way. We’re thankful for the support of the city and of the community, and we are looking to truly put San Clemente on the map in the swim world.”

As they wrap up their competitive season, Ocean Festival is a localized point where Westerlund, Vocke, and their team look to put swimming on a pedestal previously reserved for surfing and water polo.

Be sure to look out for San Clemente Aquatics team members, including 13-year-old Stella Copeland, winner of the 2016 Women’s One-Mile Ocean Swim, as they make an unmistakable splash in this year’s Ocean Festival. They will be hosting a booth, where anyone interested in learning how to participate in, as well as support San Clemente’s premier club swimming experience, is encouraged to stop by and introduce themselves to their team and staff. Offering a wide range of programs for the novice and skilled competitive swimmer alike, as well as appealing to athletes looking to cross-train for other sports, they truly have something for everyone.

Guests are invited to drop in and gain an insider view of San Clemente Aquatics as they practice on Monday through Thursday from 3:30-7 p.m. and 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. on Friday at their stunning facility at 987 Avenida Vista Hermosa.

For more information and club updates, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sanclementeaquatics/

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