Cougars junior Thomas Aguero swims the 200 IM in the BVAL Championship Finals April 29 at Independence High. Aguero won that race and the 100 breaststroke for the Santa Teresa Division. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
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After a disappointing sophomore season last year, Thomas Aguero was determined to have a standout 2023 season. 

So far, he’s delivered. The Christopher High junior won two events—the 100-yard breaststroke and 200 individual medley—in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Championship Swim Finals on April 29 at Independence High.

Results were categorized by the league’s three divisions: Mount Hamilton, Santa Teresa and Almaden Valley. Christopher and Gilroy both competed in the Santa Teresa Division this season. Mustangs junior Emma Van Laar also had a standout meet, winning the 100 freestyle in a Central Coast Section qualifying time of 55.33 seconds and the 200 free in 2:00.42. 

Her 100 free time was the third fastest overall behind the top two Mount Hamilton Division placers. Van Laar also teamed with Tekarra Lopez-Medina, Lauren Tran and Brooke Rogers for the GHS 200 free relay team which finished fourth in 1:49.83. 

Christopher junior Valentina Grieco was second in the 100 backstroke in 1:07.44. The GHS boys 200 medley relay team of Garrett Stevenson, Wyatt Van Laar, Ayden Reed and Brady Reed took third in 1:48.99. Ayden Reed finished second in the 100 butterfly in 58.40 and Van Laar placed second in the 500 free in 5:04.44. 

Swimmers who have hit CCS cutoff times advance to the Championship Prelims on May 5 at Hollister High. Qualifiers from that event move on to the Finals the following day. Aguero’s 57.16 in the 100 breast ranks among the top 10 in the CCS, and is a State Consideration Qualifying time. 

“I’m hoping to go low 56 in the [CCS] Prelims and 54 in the Finals,” said Aguero, who went a season-best 56.49 in the Short Course Far Western Championships in Morgan Hill March 30-April 2. “I’ve been putting in some pretty good training for the event the last year or more, so I was expecting to have a good time. Hopefully, I’ll do even better at CCS. I wasn’t tapered, I wasn’t rested and was pretty sore [entering league finals], so getting a second off my best time is pretty good with all the considerations.”

At the beginning of the season, Aguero focused on “fast power training” which he said is paying off for him now. Aguero said he has a goal to make State, and judging by his time, it’s fully within reach. Should he accomplish that feat, it will be a nice reward for the adversity he’s overcome. 

Aguero had two surgeries on his right knee in a span of two years bridging his freshman and sophomore years, the first of which was a huge setback because he couldn’t exercise for several months. 

“I was basically down to where I was three years prior [time-wise], which was a hard blow,” he said. “To be honest, I didn’t think I would be as fast as I am now or get to this point. I worked through the pain, was very disciplined with my training, and focused on recovery.”

The second surgery clearly affected Aguero’s sophomore year as he was unable to get out of the CCS Prelims in either of his events. 

“That was a hard blow and I definitely took that anger and put it into my training and told myself I was not going to make the same mistake this year,” he said. “I’m in a very good spot right now and happy with how I’ve healed up. My current goal is to win CCS, go to State and hopefully get to the final there.”

Gilroy High junior Emma Van Laar gets off the board en route to winning the 100-yard freestyle in the BVAL Finals.
The Mustangs’ Ayden Reed placed second in the boys 100-yard butterfly. Photo by Jonathan Natividad.
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Emanuel Lee primarily covers sports for Weeklys/NewSVMedia's Los Gatan publication. Twenty years of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40, counts himself as a true disciple of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza.

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