By William Hernandez
Since diving into a Monterey Park pool for the first time at age 10, ELAC swim team member Irene Young found her feel for the water.
“My mom was always a lap swimmer, so when I was around 10 years old she started bringing her to the Barnes Park Pool (in Monterey Park). I started on a swim team at 12 years old and I’ve been swimming and playing water polo ever since,” Young said.
In last weekend’s Chaffey Invitational at Riverside City College, Young recorded her best time ever in the women’s 50-yard backstroke. Young also competed in the 400 freestyle relay event where ELAC shattered the record-breaking four minute mark at ELAC, according to ELAC Head Coach Erik Matheson, in 3:59.66 minutes.
Young splashed her way through Mark Keppel High School where she helped the team win back-to-back CIF-SS Championships in Division’s 2 and 3 from 2011-2013.
Enrolling at ELAC was an easy decision for Young, especially after she heard the women’s swim program was resurrected in 2012. “Coach Erik (Matheson) came to Mark Keppel practices at Barnes Park Pool and asked if I would like to be a part of the team,” Young said.
Young is one of the captains on the ELAC swim squad.
She leads by example and her work ethic is stellar. She’s always the first one here and the last one to leave. Towards the end of the water polo season, she started to show leadership ability,” Matheson said.
Last semester’s women’s water polo season, ELAC’s first since 1999, elevated Young’s passion for the sport of swimming.
“I’m highly self-motivated and I believe that everyone should be too. I work hard when I’m supposed to but I know how to have fun with it at the same time. Kind of like doing the right thing at the right time,” Young said.
“Being a first year team, we did pretty well against our competitors. We beat Pasadena City College at the conference tournament (and we finished) eighth-place. We nearly beat Rio Hondo (College),” Young said. Rio Hondo took fifth place.
Young’s already looking ahead to next month’s Swim and Dive South Coast Conference Championships at Mt. SAC, hosted by Rio Hondo College, where she’ll compete in two backstroke events, and a 100 Individual Medley event.
“I’ve never really been an “IMer” because my breaststroke isn’t as fast as the other three strokes, but I’m making it a goal to finish in the top eight,” Young said.
Event finalists are the top-eight finishers in each event. Though Young still has another year left of eligibility, she will bypass her sophomore season. She instead has her sights pinned on Occidental College where she hopes to transfer next semester.
Young is a kinesiology major and said that sports, and the physiology involved, has always interested her. “One aspect of sports that stood out to me is how amazing our bodies are. Sports really defines our ability to run, jump, swim and throw,” Young said.
Along with training twice a day and going to class, Young works as a lifeguard at the Rosemead Aquatics Center. The experience of playing at ELAC has allowed Young to grow and mature both as a person and a teammate.
Thanks to the mentoring from Matheson and Assistant Coach Susan Lai, Young’s acquired key fundamentals geared for life according to Young. “(Like) setting a good example and achieving goals I set out for myself,” Young said.
“I’m so glad I decided to do this because I never would be the person I am today without it. My goals for this season is to have fun, and for everyone else to have fun,” Young said. “Hopefully I’ll carry on everything I’ve learned from being on the team and into the next chapters of my life.”