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Long Beach Poly Swimming Wilson

Swimming: Long Beach’s Hank Rivers, Colin Geer At USA Swimming Olympic Trials

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

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

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Long Beach will be well represented at the USA Olympic Swimming Trials this month as Wilson alum Hank Rivers and Long Beach Poly alum Colin Geer try to make Team USA.

Rivers is currently swimming at Cal Berkeley, and Geer is at Michigan University, but they will have their home town in their hearts when they compete in Indianapolis, Indiana for a chance to compete in the Paris Summer Olympics.

“We’re pretty humble guys but we know that we try to put on for Long Beach as much as we can,” Rivers added. “We want people to know where we’re from.”

“Representing the aquatic capital of the world, you’ve got to do it well,” Geer said of Long Beach alongside his childhood friend Rivers. “The two of us kind of know that there’s a standard to being the guys that Long Beach wants to represent them so we’re just holding ourselves to that standard.”

Rivers will swim in the 100-meter breaststroke today and the 200 breaststroke next week. Geer will compete in the 200 individual medley later this month on one of the last days of this unique trials that will be held in a pool built at Lucas Oil Stadium where the Indianapolis Colts play.

“I think when I walk into that football stadium it’s really gonna hit that this is nothing like I’ve ever done before,” Geer said.

After swimming together with Long Beach’s Shore Aquatics, Rivers and Geer both broke Moore League records in high school before attending elite universities. However, they took different routes to these Team USA trials.

Last summer, Rivers was coming off what he considered a disappointing season at Cal and rededicated himself to losing weight and gaining endurance. That hard work paid off during a late-July meet at Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine where he qualified for the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:01.19. Recently he also qualified for the 200 with a time of 2:14.48 at Woolett– a pool where he swam and played water polo during his high school career.

“‘I’ve come a long way and I’m really stoked to be where I’m at right now,” Rivers said. “I’m just going to give it my all. I wanna turn some heads and get my name on the map.”

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After graduating from Long Beach Poly last year, Geer said he rode the momentum of his phenomenal senior season into early college completion and qualified for the 200 IM at a USC meet last summer with a time of 2:02.46. He thinks swimming against top competition there brought out the best in him.

The same was true when Geer and Rivers were swimming for Share Aquatics and then later for Golden West’s club. They didn’t swim the same races, and thus didn’t train together, but the younger Geer said he always kept an eye on the older Rivers.

“He’s one of the top breaststrokers in the country and I thought, ‘If I can keep up with him, that will pay dividends for me,’” Geer said. “The respect we have for each other (is there because) we’ve seen the work the two of us have put in.”

“I’m super proud of Colin, he works so hard and he’s going to do phenomenally,” Rivers said.

The two Long Beach natives have also been connected in college after former Cal assistant coach Matt Bowe took over as head coach at Michigan.

“We talked about Hank’s strong mentality,” Geer said of his first interactions with Bowe. “None of that surprised me at all. (Hank) is a super competitor who works really hard and doesn’t want to lose. I think that we share a lot of those traits.”

Rivers made sure to contact Geer last summer during the coaching change to share his knowledge of the NCAA process. They were then able to celebrate their accomplishments when they saw each other at the NCAA Championships in March.

“I’m still feeling the support from Long Beach even though I’m so many miles away,” Geer said. “I can’t say enough about how much that means to me.”

CLICK HERE for the full schedule of USA Swimming Trials.

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.