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The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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La Salle’s Swim Team Dives Into a New Season With a New Coach

Rita Tran
Coach Elizabeth Ferek’s favorite strokes are the butterfly and the individual medley.

New to high school swim, but not new to swimming, Elizabeth Ferek has joined the swim team coaching staff as the new head coach this year. 

As a result of her grandfather living in Hawaii, growing up, swimming was a necessary part of Ferek’s life. Ferek’s family would often visit Hawaii and she along with the rest of her family were all taught to swim at a very young age. “I just kind of fell in love with it,” she said. 

As soon as she was old enough to start competing, Ferek enrolled in a program called Mount Hood Aquatics. “It was a one-through-12 level [program] at Barlow High School, and then once you graduated through that 12th level, you had the option to then go into the swim team,” she said. 

Ferek started competing through her club team around the third or fourth grade and continued competing throughout high school. 

Ferek went to Corbett High School and along with competing through her club team, she swam for her high school team freshman through senior year. 

What Ferek has enjoyed most about her experience with swim teams over the years is the welcoming environment that it provides as well as the “camaraderie” of the sport. As a sport with typically larger teams, Ferek likes that students from all grades get to interact with one another. 

“I think it brings together a lot of different types of kids, which I always liked,” Ferek said. “I think it kind of strips away the social norms sometimes that students have, and then when they all come together on a swim team, it’s just a bunch of friends that get to hang out every day.” 

Beyond the team aspect of the sport, Ferek feels that swimming is also a great way to exercise, as it uses all the muscles in the body and is “great for cardio,” she said. 

Throughout her entire swim career, Ferek enjoys improving her own skills as well as those of the kids she coaches. “A meaningful thing as a coach is when you see someone improve or you push someone to do something that they don’t think that they can do and then they do it really well,” Ferek said. “I think as a coach, that’s one of the most fulfilling things,” she said.

One of Ferek’s biggest sources of support and encouragement throughout her swim career is one of her own swim coaches, Felicia Castaneda. Ferek is most inspired by Castaneda’s own success in the sport as she swam at the collegiate level and made it into the Olympics for breaststroke. Castaneda coached Ferek all the way through the 12-level program. To this day, Ferek and Castaneda are still friends and keep in touch, even though Castaneda now lives on the east coast.

Ferek began her coaching career through the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) swim program, which she did for a couple of years before becoming the head coach for the La Salle team this year. 

“Coach Carrie Xena, who’s also a coach on this team, had reached out to me asking if I would be interested,” she said. This along with the fact that some of the kids she coached through CYO are now at La Salle led to her decision to coach here.

As it is her first year on the team, Ferek’s goal this season is to get adjusted to the new role and the program. Along with getting familiar with students, her biggest goal for the team is to “constantly be getting better,” she said. 

Since she started coaching the La Salle team, Ferek has noticed a strong bond throughout the team. With so many members on the team, it leads to the opportunity for cliques to form, but she hasn’t had any issues with this thus far. “I think the seniors have been really inclusive and are really leaders of this team,” Coach Ferek said. “It’s such an inclusive team, which is one of the things I think is the best about it,” 

In addition, Ferek appreciates her coaching staff, which is composed of Keenan Robinson, Kerri Mozena, English teacher Paul Dreisbach, and Director of Community & Student Leadership, Adriana Noesi. 

All of these members bring different aspects to the team, and are able to cater to their strengths when running practices. Robinson “has kind of that institutional knowledge of swimming from when he was swimming here at La Salle,” Ferek said. Mr. Dreisbach and Ms. Noesi “know the students personally, which has been great,” she said. Mozena knows the skills of swimming and is able to choose certain drills that will benefit the team. 

“Everyone [has] been really welcoming and really nice and great to work with,” Ferek said. 

Ferek graduated from Marquette University and double majored in corporate communication and broadcast and digital media. She worked for the Blazers for a few years as a sports reporter, but during her time announcing sports, she yearned to get back into the pool.

Balancing her full-time job at Kaiser Permanente as the communications manager and coaching a high school sports team can be hard, but she never lets it get in the way of her passion for swimming. 

Outside of the pool, Ferek likes to watch sports, read, listen to music, and go to concerts. “I love going to the Keller [Auditorium] and seeing shows,” she said. 

For any aspiring swimmers, Ferek gives the advice to push yourself and don’t be afraid to try something new.  “The kids are so fun. And I think it’s just a great life skill to have,” she said.  

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