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Brawley swimmer next to perfect so far this year

March 26, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN
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Sports Writer

During her freshman year on the Brawley Union High girls swim team, Jennifer Cardenas was moved to different events to try to find her niche on the team.

Two years later, most would agree Cardenas has not only found her niche but has become one of the best high school swimmers in the Imperial Valley.

This year, like last year, Cardenas' name has become synonymous with winning.

Other than a second-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley against Cathedral City in the team's opener, Cardenas has won every event she's competed in this season, making her 19-1.

Last week eight of those 19 wins came in meets against Central Union High and Escondido as the 16-year-old junior swept her competition, winning four individual events and four relays.

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"Ever since the cross country season ended, I've been swimming nonstop, sometimes practicing five or six hours a day," said Cardenas, one of the top five runners on the Wildcats' cross country team.

On Thursday in her team's 95-56 Imperial Valley League victory over Central, Cardenas won the 200-yard freestyle in 2 minutes, 12.4 seconds, the 100-yard butterfly in 1:05.4, teamed with Brooke Pace, Lauren Roberts and Stephanie Luckey to take the 200-yard medley relay and hooked up with Erica Smith, Tracy King and her younger sister Natalia Cardenas to win the 400-yard freestyle relay in 4:09.88.

"Last week against Central, I was pretty nervous about it because it was our first home meet and I was swimming against family and friends," said Cardenas. "I've swam I don't know how many meets before in front of friends and family, but for some reason I was nervous out there."

Her nerves didn't seem to phase her as she won all her events and followed that with another perfect performance at Escondido.

In the team's 90-80 win over Escondido on Friday, she won the 200 free in 2:11.78 — breaking her old school record — the 100 butterfly in 1:05.92 and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay team, which won in 2:04.27 and part of the winning 400 free relay team that took first in 4:08.88.

"I think if there's anything that's driven me this year, it's that second place I took against Cathedral City. Whenever I go out there, that's always in the back of my mind," said Cardenas. "So I use that when I'm competing. Our team motto is ‘Swim like a fish, fight like a lobster,' and that's how I approach each meet."

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