For years now, senior Micah Ginoza and junior Sofia Carlson have held the upper ranks at Hawaii’s high school swim meets. With their talents — Carlson’s in sprint freestyle and sprint fly, Ginoza’s in distance freestyle — the two are making waves on the national level, as well as for Kaiser’s own team. As they continue to pursue excellence, they are also emerging as role models, filling the spaces left by the graduated class of 2019.
Last season’s team leaders, now-graduated Sophia Harrison, Erin Patterson, and Mari Yasumi, each won three titles at last year’s Oahu Interscholastic Association (OIA) Championship. That’s a tough act to follow, considering that the 2019 seniors also had strength in numbers. “There are definitely [fewer] seniors this year, so the juniors are helping the new freshmen,” Carlson said. Still, the team harbors many powerful upperclassmen, including Carlson, who was tackling upperclassman-level trials even in her sophomore year. At the 2019 OIAs, she swam the 400 freestyle relay with the aforementioned seniors, winning the gold and setting the meet record.
Carlson began swimming competitively for the Kamehameha Swim Club (KSC) at age nine, and later joined Kaiser’s team in her freshman year. As with many dual Kaiser-KSC swimmers, she practices for about 15 hours per week with KSC and competes for both teams. The commitment is evidently paying off, because Carlson’s list of titles includes first in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) State Championship. She also competed against swimmers from across the western side of the nation in the USA Swimming Futures Championship (“Futures”).
Ginoza, whose specialty lies in distance freestyle, also competed in Futures to place 9th in the 1500 meter freestyle. At the OIA Championship last year he won the 200-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle, and at the 2019 Hawaii Age Group Championship, he took first for the 1500 meter freestyle. Ginoza was also awarded the title of Scholastic All-American in Swimming for his combined athletic and academic credentials. For his final season as a high school swimmer, he aims to lead by showing exemplary dedication to his sport. Ginoza said of being a senior swimmer, “You have a lot more leadership and they expect more from you, but it’s good because you have to set the example for the underclassmen and people who are just trying to learn how to swim.”
The team is still adjusting to the departure of its alumni and the influx of underclassmen.
However, Ginoza is confident about the turnout. “This year we’re having a lot of our swimmers return from last year, as well as a lot of fast freshmen and underclassmen coming in,” he said. “I think that if we all train hard and do our best at the state level and at our school level, we can definitely win OIAs this year — boys and girls.”
Contributed by Tara Morisato