Santa Monica College women’s swimming and diving coach Steve Contarsy, who steered his team to a perfect 7-0 record this season, has been named the Western States Conference (WSC) Women’s Swimming and Diving Coach of the Year.
Contarsy’s team not only had a perfect season, but also set six new conference records in the individual 50- and 100-yard freestyle, 50-yard butterfly, 50-yard breaststroke, as well as the 200- and 400-yard medley relay races.
Isabella Zhang, who was named WSC Women’s Athlete of the Year in swimming and diving as an individual and as part of the SMC medley team, set three individual records and was part of five of the six conference records.
“The girls really worked hard,” said Contarsy, who has been coaching at SMC for ten years. “It’s not just me. First of all, you have to have the athletes. Then, they have to be committed to work. Then, they have to come together as a team.”
Currently in his 41st year of coaching swimming, diving and water polo, Contarsy has experience coaching at every level and at all age groups, from high school through college.
Last year, Contarsy had one of his athletes compete at the U.S. Olympic Swimming trials. In 2000, his first year as head coach of the SMC men’s and women’s swimming and diving program, he led the team to a third-place finish in conference and an eighth-place finish in the state competition, with a team record of 7-1.
This year was his first undefeated season, and his team placed sixth in the state meet. Zhang was the state champion in the 100-yard freestyle, and teammate Sarah Ritz was the state champion in three-meter diving.
The other conference record breakers were Sara Zandihn in the 50-yard breaststroke and, along with Zandihn and Zhang, Sarma Zemjanis (backstroke) and Chelsea Kemp (freestyle) in the relays.
Contarsy was previously honored as Coach of the Year by the California Coaches Association in 1997.