In a historic first, the Santa Margarita Catholic High School girls swim program won the overall high school national title by Swimming World Magazine. The girls swim program had previously earned the national championship for independent schools in 2017 and 2021, but this year SMCHS came away with top honors overall, landing the team on the cover of the September issue.
The national title is based on top times swam during the 2021-22 high school season.
“It’s something that we never imagined we would do when we started this,” Rich Blanc told Swimming World Magazine. “When we started out, we just wanted to be a good influence on kids and see how fast we could get our swimmers, but to be able to do this is a dream come true and something that we don’t take for granted.”
Read the full story in Swimming World Magazine. The program has also been named 2018 and 2022 NISCA (National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association) Girls National Champions.
The prestigious title comes on the heels of a standout spring season for the history books. Santa Margarita’s Girls Swimming and Diving team won their third consecutive state title with a state meet record 378 points while also setting a national overall high school record in the 400-yard freestyle and earning six individual events. The team also took home their eighth consecutive CIF-SS championship title and 22nd consecutive Trinity League title. The Blanc Brothers also coach the boys program, which came away with a second-place finish at state this spring, second straight CIF title and fourth consecutive Trinity League title.
Blanc Brothers Named Coaches of the Year
Ron and Rich Blanc have been at the helm of the girls and boys swim programs at SMCHS since 1996. Recognized for their positive work with the athletes in their program, both coaches were named CIF Coaches of the Year for 2022. They will serve as the Southern Section nominee for the National Federation of High School California State Coach of the Year award.
Santa Margarita swimming’s long legacy of success includes Eagle alumni swimmers who competed in the Tokyo Olympic games: Katie McLaughlin ’15 (silver medalist 4 x 200 freestyle) and Anicka Delgado ’20 (Ecuador, 50 & 100 freestyle). The program’s rich history of success also includes 19 Eagles in school history qualifying for the Olympic Trials, the highest level of competition in the country. In the past several years, Eagle swimming has produced five national high school swimming records.
“I think once you have that depth, once you have that quality team, other kids just want to be a part of it because they know that if they swim with talented kids that have similar goals and values, it’s going to push them to be better, too,” Rich told Swimming World Magazine.
While the thrill of record-breaking performances and championships can’t be replicated, the Blanc brothers both say their favorite part of this recent championship season was witnessing the athletes support one another.
“With high school swimming, it’s much more of a team sport, and I think the friendships that the girls make with each other is something that sets high school swimming apart,” Rich told Swimming World Magazine.
The Blanc Brothers were asked about the recent success with their teams:
How does it feel to share this achievement with your brother?
Coach Ron/Rich: Since we have been coaching together since 1988, it's natural to share these achievements with my brother. We've been sharing our life achievements since we were born, so I wouldn't think twice about enjoying the season's accomplishments together.
If there was one thing your swimmers should take away from this experience, what would it be?
Coach Ron: Be humble, be earnest in your training, and dream big!
Coach Rich: We accomplished what we did this year as a team. In high school swimming, it is all about teamwork and being a part of something bigger than ourselves. Trust in yourself and your teammates. We all need each other and need to continue to support one another.
What does this achievement mean for the future of Eagle Swimming?
Coach Ron/Rich: This means swim teams and college coaches around the country have heard about us. Coach Ron, "I was speaking this past week with Coach Todd Desorbo, the head coach of the University of Virginia and the 2024 U.S. Women's Olympic Head Coach at the coaches convention. When I mentioned where I coached, he knew about SM and where we were from."