By Caleb Wiseblood, Santa Maria Sun
SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Every year, the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) invites the top swimmers and divers throughout the state to compete at the CCCAA Swimming and Diving Championship. Dria Kwong, who swam for Allan Hancock College, competed in the women’s 100-yard butterfly event in 2016 and 2017. For both years now, Kwong made it to the championship finals.
“Competing at state both years are definitely huge parts of my Hancock athletic journey,” Kwong told the Sun.
Next year will be Kwong’s last at Hancock as she plans to transfer to either Cal Poly or UC Santa Cruz as a biomedical engineering major in 2018. She will apply this fall.
“Wherever I do end up going though, I’m definitely trying out for the swim team,” she said.
“State is always extremely fun because it’s both competitive and friendly,” Kwong said. “I’ll always see the same girls from other schools at other meets and we’re always friendly towards one another.”
A few of Kwong’s friends from Cuesta College and College of the Canyons competed against her at the championship, but the competition never got in the way of their friendship, she said.
“Everyone seems to think that swimming is an individual sport, but I’ve always seen it as a team effort,” Kwong said. “I call my team and friends I swim with my ‘swim family.’”
Kwong first learned how to swim at the YMCA when she was 4, she said. Soon after that, she started going to the Santa Maria Swim Club, where she swam all throughout elementary school to high school.
Today—when she’s not studying, tutoring, or working her job at the Foxenwood Tennis and Swim Club—Kwong is usually swimming at Hancock.
She also loves going to the beach and swimming in the ocean, she said. Her favorite open water swim is the Nite Moves event in Santa Barbara. It’s a 1-K ocean swim followed by a 5-K run every Wednesday evening during the summer at Leadbetter Beach.
Aside from just being a great way to have fun, Kwong values the sport for teaching her skills that have benefited her outside of swimming, like goal setting, commitment, and teamwork, she said.
“Swimming has always been a huge part of my life, and I’m constantly learning from it,” Kwong said. “Swimming is what taught me to learn from my mistakes, setbacks, and failures to move forward and overcome those challenges.”