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Cabrillo Jordan Lakewood Long Beach Poly Millikan Swimming Wilson

Long Beach Boys’ Swimming Season Preview 2024

The562’s coverage of aquatic sports in Long Beach is sponsored by the Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.

The 2024 Long Beach high school swim season is underway as the Wilson Bruins and Long Beach Poly Jackrabbits seem destined for another historic showdown for local supremacy.


It’s safe to say that last year was a banner year for the Long Beach Poly boys’ swim team after they ended Wilson’s 49-year stranglehold on the Moore League title. The 2023 championship win joins a rare pantheon of highly-hyped league titles, alongside the Wilson football 1943 “Jinx Busters” team that was the first in Bruins history to beat the Jackrabbits. Poly coach Ish Pluton, a Poly alum himself, admitted he and his program have enjoyed the energy and excitement that came with their league title win last year.

“It was incredible, I wasn’t expecting the shoutout at graduation, or how stoked everyone at Poly was about the fact that we won,” he said. “We’ve been all about it.”

The Jackrabbits are hoping to turn the page to 2024 and continue their success. Pluton is helpful that the energy of last year will carry over into this year, especially with a good number of returners.

“We’re returning a lot of those kids, we feel good about our top swimmers,” he said. “As far as everyone else on the team, they know how much work it’ll take if we want to repeat. The atmosphere at Poly is, we have to put in some serious work to make it happen again. They want to make a statement that it wasn’t a one-off, that we’re a swim school too.”

The Jackrabbits return several key swimmers from last year, including Lucas and Evan Jue, Sam Kuo, and Mordox Sar. Pluton said his team isn’t as deep as it was last year, which means he’ll have to do some tinkering as far as who’s swimming what event.

He’s got other swimmers stepping up and locking into events, with Kyle Oatey back swimming the distance free events and also serving as one of the team’s three captains alongside Kuo and Evan Jue.

“I have the benefit of having guys who can swim nearly any event fast, and win a lot of those events,” said Pluton. “Where to put them is the strategic part of it.”

Other guys stepping up include water polo player Emerson LaPorta, who will be the team’s sprint freestyler this year, as well as Markus Cruz who can swim the 100 breast and fly. As for whether Poly can repeat as Moore League champions? 

“We expect it to be close and to be a fight again, another nailbiter,” said Pluton.


A hungry group of Bruins are ready to bounce back with the vast majority of history supporting their confidence. 

“You’ve got to acknowledge it was a loss but ultimately we’re 49 and 1 in the last 50 years, and that’s not a bad record at all,” said Wilson coach Brandon D’Sa. “We’re basically taking it on the chin and moving forward. Every year we reload and expect to be a championship team. That’s what we’re trying to do here. We’re taking what we can (from last year) to learn from, moving forward and going for another championship.”

Wilson alum D’Sa loves to see a bigger freshman class than Wilson has seen in years so the growth is there, but he’ll be relying on leaders like Wyatt Mitchell to lead the Bruins between the lane lines. Mitchell is a long distance swimmer who won the league title in the 200 freestyle last season. He was also the only Bruin to reach the final day of CIF competition a year ago.

“This kid can swim,” said D’Sa of Mitchell. “And he’s fully stepping into the (leadership) role and it’s growing on him. He’s by far our best athlete and as now he’s doing more of getting the team organized, making sure the other kids are on track, on the lane lines and then going out and swimming like an absolute animal.”

Junior Elijah Vince is also going to be a star for Wilson in a variety of disciplines because D’Sa called him, “Our jack of all trades. He reminds me a little bit of myself because I can put him in pretty much any event. He’s got that bravado, charisma and energy in practice. He’s tough to beat.”

Sophomore Vaughn Baker is another exciting underclassman swimmer who can do a little bit of everything for D’Sa this year because of his attitude and work ethic.

With the motivation securely in place, Wilson has been working on dealing with the pressures of being in clutch situations. D’Sa will make a practice session about a certain mental aspect and then put his team through a pressure cooker to perform.

“It’s like in the classroom teaching,” he said. “We do the team thing together like in the classroom, then they work on it themselves like homework, then they test it out on some sort of exam like a meet.”

So far so good for Wilson this season, but the Bruins have their eyes on one thing and one thing only.

“It’s never changed, we hung up 49 numbers for a reason, it’s a (league) championship,” said D’Sa. “Not being successful in that (league title hunt) doesn’t mean the kids aren’t successful. There’s multiple ways to be successful in swimming. But we know what we want.”

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As has been the case with the boys’ water polo program since he took over a few years ago, coach Randy Wright is impressed with the improvement but knows the hard work is still ahead of the Rams this season.

“(Last year) we were a young team with little competitive experience and our times and results gave the program a boost in confidence,” said Wright. “Our expectations (this year) are to become more relevant in big races. Last year, the athletes could see how much closer we were to competing at a high level with our opponents than expected.”

Wright added that the Rams’ strength is balance and depth. Lucas Smith is a team leader and best in the 100 backstroke while sophomore Noah Martinez will look to pick up where he left off in the 100 butterfly. Wright also thinks that Aiden Xavier will have a breakout season, and that Luc Poissant, Nathan Huber, and Zain Dahdul will be close to CIF qualifying times.

“The most important meet every year is league finals,” Wright said. “We have those dates circled on the calendar and we discuss what it will take to be our best and make lasting memories when it counts the most.”


This is the best possible time for the Cabrillo swimming program to be fundraising for a record billboard to hang at their home pool by the end of this season because it’s fair to say that last season was their best ever.

The Jaguars broke seven school records and had three swimmers in the last league final heats for the first time ever. Cabrillo also had a top three finishers in the 50 freestyle and freestyle relay.

Cabrillo is led by twin brothers Aharon Villegas-Resendiz and Mosheh Villegas-Resendiz. Aharon is one of the most versatile swimmers on the team, and Mosheh will be tops in the individual medley. Aharon has qualified for CIF in the 50 freestyle for the first time in school history.

Beto Salazar and Emilio Jimenez will also be key for the Jaguars in the butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke. Beto’s brother, Nahun Salazar, is one of the newcomers that coach Lawrence Durand has his eye on.

“As usual our most important competition is the league meet at home against Lakewood, even though last year was our first comfortable win with all our close battles we cannot assume that will happen again,” Durand said. “Being at home in our fast pool brings out the best in the Jags so if we are healthy, we should do well.”


The Panthers have a new boys’ and girls’ swimming coach in Brenden Gruneisen, who was an assistant coach at his alma mater Wilson for the last three years.

“My short time at Jordan has been fantastic and I have nothing but great things to say about the support I have received from the staff and administration as well as the hard work and dedication of my athletes,” he said. “As a coach in the Moore League for a few years now, I have always admired Jordan’s program and the amazing things they do to provide access to aquatics to students who generally don’t have as many of those experiences by the time they get to high school.  Being a small part of that legacy and striving to build on the achievements of the Jordan Aquatics community that came before me has been the most fulfilling part of my coaching career to this point.      

Jordan’s top returner is captain and senior distance freestyle swimmer Diego Dorantes. He will be joined by sophomore John Delgadillo, junior Omar Valdez and sophomores Eliu Velasquez are the other top swimmers. Delgadillo and Valdez will be best in the butterfly and Velasquez will be best in the backstroke.

Gruneisen also said that sophomores Erick Esquivel and Giovanni Farias could be exciting additions in the breaststroke and freestyle races, respectively.

“Obviously, any time you get to swim ‘under the lights’ is a big deal, so we’re very much looking forward to participating in the Klaus Barth Invitational and Moore League Finals this year,” said Gruneisen. “Both of these meets are quite a bit later on in the season so I’m very excited to see how much our swimmers improve between now and then. Our swimmers’ success at these meets will come from working hard over the course of the season, embracing the moment of swimming at big meets, and remembering to be proud of how far they’ve come.”


The Lancers are trying to make improvements under new head coach Todd Hickman.

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JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.