By Oliver Blanco
After a 10-year absence, the East Los Angeles College women’s swim team has returned with Erik Matheson taking charge as head coach.
Matheson is grateful for the opportunity to coach the women as he prepares the 35 women for their first competition in January. Matheson is receiving the position in June, a month after high school recruiting took place.
With no high school students available to recruit, Matheson focused on recruiting students from ELAC and was surprised by the number of women that seeked him out to join the team.
Matheson missed the high school recruiting period when he started, but was amazed at how willing the students at ELAC wanted a swim team, and at how the young ladies would come up to him wanting to join the team.
When the swim team was cut 10 years ago, students did not know if there would be a swim team at ELAC in the near future. The swim team was re-established earlier this year, by Athletic Director Al Cone after ELAC hosted the Community College State Championships at the Swim Stadium.
“I went from having no one on the roster to having 35 on my list within a six month (period),” said Matheson.
Martha Rivas, a sophomore, continually asked Cone when the women’s swim team would return. After Rivas received word that the team would return, she got excited with anticipation.
“I work at the pool, so every time I saw Al Cone at the pool, I asked him when the swim team would return. I have been swimming since I was 10 years old,” said Rivas.
Matheson is aiming to take the team above and beyond. Before the previous swim team was cut, the school had national championship swimmers. Matheson recently found out the swim stadium is ranked as one of the top five pools in the nation.
Matheson has coached for more than 20 years. He started his coaching career where he went to high school, at Culver City High School and continued at Santa Monica High School. He later coached for 11 years at Santa Monica College.
“When I heard back in April that the ELAC swim team might be coming back, I applied for the position,” said Matheson, who was grateful after receiving the job, “it is a great opportunity to start the program from nothing.”
He started swimming at a young age, but his first competition was not until he competed for Culver City High School. He was accepted to Cal State Northridge after graduation from high school and joined their swim team. Matheson has coached at a high school and college level. However, his focus in coaching leans more to the community colleges.
“I’ve had a pretty good rounded team throughout my career, but I keep focusing my attention back on community colleges,” said Matheson
The swim team is allowed to have 18 swimmers for competition, but there is no limit to how many swimmers could be on the roster. The ELAC swim team’s first competition will take place January 10 against his old team, Santa Monica College. Matheson looks forward to their first year of competition, he encourages any female swimmer interested in swimming to join.
“Anyone interested in the team, come and talk to me especially if you have a competitive background,” said Matheson.
The training schedule starts Monday through Thursday from noon till 3:30 p.m. in the swim stadium.