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Mykaela Delgado: Trinity trail blazer

Mykaela Delgado is making waves as a team of one

Posted: March 31, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 31, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Trinity Classical Academy freshman Mykaela Delgado has had to compete with Valencia High School during meets because she is the only member of the Knights’ swim team.

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In some ways, every high school swimmer is alone.

When a swimmer steps up and prepares to enter the water, the individual nature of the sport is as present as ever.

But then, the swimmers reach the other end of the pool. And as they prepare to flip around and head back toward the start, the sounds of cheering teammates make it clear — high school swimming is a team sport.

But for Trinity Classical Academy freshman Mykaela Delgado — it’s not.

She doesn’t have teammates. In fact, she barely has a team.

But it’s an opportunity she’s determined to make the most of.

And she’s making the most of it.

Delgado, who moved to the Santa Clarita Valley from Arizona and attended Trinity in eighth grade, was worried she would have to go without high school swimming.

Trinity had never fielded a swim team, so she considered going to Valencia High.

But Delgado’s father, Gil Delgado, made an agreement with Canyons Aquatic Club coach and Valencia head coach Mike Bechtholdt to allow her to swim during the Vikings’ dual meets as a freelance swimmer for Trinity.

“Valencia High has been very accommodating in letting her take part in their meets,” says Trinity athletic director Matt Dixon. “They’ve been very, very kind and generous in allowing us to do that because if they hadn’t it would have been pretty much nothing she could have done.”

But with Valencia’s help, Mykaela jumped at the opportunity to swim for her high school.

“I was nervous about how it would all work out and it was my first high school meet and I would be alone,” says Delgado of the first time she suited up alongside the Vikings. “It came naturally. Once I was in the water, it was no different from club swimming.”

So each week, when the Vikings are busy competing against fellow Foothill League rivals, Delgado stands out.

With Gil as her coach, she is a Knight in a sea of Cowboys, Indians, Vikings, Wildcats, Grizzlies and Centurions.

But she’s something else, too.

She’s a trail blazer.

The first swimmer in Trinity’s history, and the first Knights’ athlete to defeat Foothill League competition.

In Valencia’s meet against Crespi High on March 1, she finished first in a 50-yard freestyle race, winning in 26.25 seconds, and qualified for the CIF-Southern Section Division IV swimming championships.

Less than three weeks later, she did it again, winning a 200-yard race against Valencia and West Ranch with a CIF-SS qualifying time of two minutes, 2.97 seconds.

“I was really excited,” she says. “It was kind of a cool opportunity to do something that no one else had done. I realized it, but I didn’t realize how much people would be looking into it.”

But that success should come as no surprise, as Delgado, who also swims for Canyons Aquatic Club, has continually shown she is a solid sprinter in the water.

“She is truly a force to be reckoned with,” says Canyons Aquatic Club coach and Saugus High coach Vicky Donnelly. “She is a sprinter to the core ... She does not like to lose at all.”

But while she’s finding the individual successes exciting, the situation isn’t exactly ideal.

“You don’t get as much of that team feeling that you get when you’re on an actual team, and sometimes I miss that a little,” Delgado says.

For all the solo accolades seen in swimming, high school swimming is built as a team sport.

Teams compete in dual meets and receive points based on where its swimmers finish in each event.

Swimmers not in the pool are often seen at the end of the lanes, cheering on teammates as they race.

But Delgado doesn’t have teammates, so she’s had to adopt the Vikings as her own.

“I think that it’s kind of hard for her because she doesn’t get to do relays or anything, but she’s making friends with people on Valencia,” says friend and Valencia swimmer Katie Blasing. “Since she’s only one person, we don’t see her as she’ll beat us. She’s really good and all, but we view her more as a teammate.

“She cheers for us and does the team cheers and stuff, even though she feels a little awkward doing it.”

Delgado even finds herself paying attention to Foothill League rivalries, admitting she would like to see the Vikings topple perennial power Hart High.

“It’s always fun to get wrapped up in the rivalries and like you’re a part of something that’s fun and competitive,” she says. “I find since I swim with Valencia, I want Valencia to beat Hart.”

For now, though, that’s as close as she’ll come to cheering on a team of her own.

But in the future, she’s hopeful that will change.

“It makes me excited to know that I’m starting something new and it’s cool,” Delgado says. “At the rate Trinity is going it will probably be really different (soon), and we might have an actual team.”

And she’s not alone in that thinking.

“Because of her doing it, it has piqued interest, especially in some of our elementary and junior high students,” Dixon says. “So it’s because of her and she’s leading the way in us looking forward ... It’s solely because of having her want to do this and her pushing and her parents pushing that makes it possible.”

Until then, she’ll continue to swim on her own.

A Knight blazing a trail — one stroke at a time.



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