Bailey-driven CdM Aquatics making waves

Water Polo

Sea Kings' girls' coach has also begun age-group program at CdM, hoping to buoy prep powerhouse.

March 21, 2011|By Matt Szabo,
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

It was December 2009, and Aaron Chaney wasn't happy.

The longtime Corona del Mar High girls' water polo coach had just seen his team lose to Back Bay rival Newport Harbor, but he was troubled for other reasons.

For the first time in his nine-year tenure, there was no frosh-soph girls' team at CdM. Numbers were at an all-time low.

"We need to get more girls to come out and play water polo," Chaney told the Daily Pilot at the time. "Newport has a great junior polo program. The best teams in high school are the ones that have the great junior polo programs. In the past, we've had a lot of success. We've had a really strong junior polo program. Our junior polo program has dropped off. And we're working on building it back up. We've lost a lot of girls."

Chaney is now in Hawaii, but first-year Coach Sam Bailey had many of the same concerns when he came into CdM.


On March 8, though, Bailey could smile. He said he had 21 girls out for his new CdM Aquatics girls' age-group program at the Marian Bergeson Aquatics Center.

For the first time in nearly three years, CdM is building toward having competitive girls' club teams in the 10-and-under to 14-and-under age groups. It'll be possible through the nonprofit community program that also includes Bailey's high school girls on the 16U and 18U squads.

"The strengths of the CdM high school team have always been the fact that the high school team has always competed together in the summer, and the age-group participation," Bailey said. "The numbers for girls had been really down. We needed to fill that void of girls in age-group water polo."

The coaching staff includes Bailey and his high school assistant coaches, Brian Mericle and Brittany Fullen, as well as Jon Puffer. But Bailey has also had his high school girls helping out the youngsters. During one recent evening practice, that meant the junior high girls got instruction in the pool from players like CdM senior Maddie Schwartz, junior Alex Musselman and sophomore Cassidy Papa.

"We started off early [two weeks ago] teaching them how to 'eggbeater [a kicking motion that keeps players afloat],' " Schwartz said. "It's just amazing to see their progress from then until now. They're doing the eggbeater, shooting high-corner shots. It's a really rewarding job I guess you could call it. I love it; they're all so sweet.

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