Will Abele made a name for himself as a frequent top finisher during his time at Peninsula High.
Abele, a 2016 Peninsula graduate, has continued his eye-opening swimming for Pomona-Pitzer College, most notably during the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship's Feb. 21-24 at the Brenda Villa Aquatic Center in Commerce.
He posted top finishes in the 500-yard freestyle, the 200 free and placed second in the 200 fly, all while helping Pomona-Pitzer win its second straight SCIAC title.
Abele was also part of three other first-place finishers—the 400 IM relay, and the 400 and 800 freestyle relays.
"Heading into the championships, I had confidence in my training and took it one race at a time," Abele said. "The meet is four days long, so I really had to center myself to stay in it."
Competing against swimmers from Pomona-Pitzer and eight other colleges, Abele noted his nerves had come into play during the event.
"I was nervous all four days, but the Pomona-Pitzer team is super spirited," Abele said. "Their energy and cheers helped me relax and enjoy the moment."
The four-day event marked a first for Abele: he hadn't finished higher than fourth in the 200 butterfly. But the junior used his experience from the previous two years to push through.
"I had some good swims with fast competitors both years, which I think helped prepare me for the meet this year, which was by far my best," Abele said.
In the 500 free, Abele found himself next to someone he'd done ocean races with in the past: Ben Brewer of Cal Lutheran.
After finding himself behind most of the race, and looking to score points for Pomona-Pitzer, Abele picked up his pace and pulled away at the end.
His second-place finish in the 200 butterfly (1 minute, 49.34 seconds) set a new Pomona-Pitzer record.
Currently ranked No. 7 in the 500 free in Division III, Abele knows what's next: the NCAA swimming and diving championships March 20-23 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in North Carolina.
"We're going to continue to train hard and hopefully see some more good times at the NCAA's," Abele said.
This isn't his first time competing at the NCAA event—he's advanced there in his freshman and sophomore years.
"I've seen the NCAA's event become more and more competitive at the division 3 level, so the competition will be extremely tough," Abele said. "The energy and excitement is very high, and I plan to channel that energy into some fast races in prelims in order to make finals."
Despite his top finishes while at Peninsula, Abele saw a stark contrast when he began preparing for collegiate swimming.
"The biggest differences between high school and college swimming are the level of competition and the intensity of training," Abele said. "We train hard, in and out of the water, and with more weight training than in high school."
That training regimen is no different around the conference, and Abele welcomes the competition.
"Our competitors (train the same), so when we meet in the pool, we have some really great races," Abele said. "At Pomona-Pitzer, we have an awesome training group. We really push each other at practice and make the workouts fun."
Currently double-majoring in mathematics and economics, Abele has his sights set on working in finance and eventually attending business school.
That doesn't mean he will be staying away from the water.
"I plan to remain a recurrent Ocean Lifeguard for L.A. County and find some time in my schedule to keep swimming," he said.