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Friday, Jul 05 2013 07:13 PM

Centennial's Graves honored as All-Area Boys Swimming Coach of the Year

By The Bakersfield Californian

David Graves has accomplished a lot of impressive things as Centennial's swimming coach.

But this past season was a historic one for Graves and his Golden Hawks.

For the first time in school history, all four of Centennial's swimming teams (girls and boys varsity and junior varsity) won league titles in the same year.

"That's something that I'm actually very proud of," Graves said. "That was really cool."

Graves, The Californian's Boys Swimming Coach of the Year, has had the Golden Hawks program on the upswing for the past several years.

Following years of Stockdale domination, the Centennial varsity boys squad has now won two consecutive Southwest Yosemite League championships. Meanwhile, the school's varsity girls claimed a third straight SWYL crown in 2013.

"It's a situation where winning perpetuates itself," Graves said. "And we had a lot of really good boys coming through the program the past 6-8 years that just kept getting it better and better and better."

That continued improvement was shown in the Golden Hawks' outstanding depth this past season. The Centennial boys took their largest contingent of swimmers (17) to the Central Section Championships.

All 19 members of the squad produced at least a section championship consideration time in a minimum of one event.

The Golden Hawks took fifth place at the section meet for the second straight year.

"That was really nice because we graduated some really good swimmers (from the previous year)," Graves said.

The 2013 season included another noteworthy highlight for the Centennial boys as they broke the school's 400-yard freestyle relay record for a third consecutive year.

Graves, a former Bakersfield College and Cal State Bakersfield swimmer, started coaching before he had even graduated college.

He is quick to point out that all of the Golden Hawks' success wouldn't be possible without the hard work of his assistant coaches.

"I don't coach alone," Graves said. "I'm very lucky to have a loyal and large staff at Centennial that helps me out."

-- STEPHEN LYNCH

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