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Pajer still hard at work with AquaZot

Irvine Scene

He coached the UC Irvine swim program until it was eliminated in 2009 and turned all his focus toward his club.

July 28, 2012|By Joe Haakenson
(Courtesy of AquaZot…)

There's no truth to the rumor that Brian Pajer has the Olympic Games rings tattooed across his chest. But if he did, it would be difficult to blame him.

Pajer was a two-time Big West Conference swimming coach of the year during his days as UC Irvine's head coach, but his success as a coach extends beyond the college-aged swimmers.

Pajer was coaching at Irvine's Novaquatics when Amanda Beard, Aaron Peirsol and Mike Cavic swam there as grade-schoolers, eventually becoming Olympic medalists. And after starting up the AquaZot Swim Club he coached another future Olympian in Kristen Caverly.

For now, Pajer is focused on his current group of swimmers at AquaZot, the club he founded in 1999 when he was an assistant at UCI and the school asked him to start a swim club based at the school's new pool.

The collegiate swimming program at UCI was eliminated in 2009, so Pajer has since put all his efforts into AquaZot, which included kids ages 5 through high school. This weekend he's been in Santa Clarita as AquaZot is competing in the California-Nevada Gold Sectionals and in a few weeks the team will go to Indianapolis for the Junior Nationals.

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It's high level stuff. Or not. Pajer said AquaZot's goal is to help his swimmers reach theirs, whatever they may be.

"Our biggest thing is we want parents and kids to set goals for what they want in the sport, and it's our goal to help them achieve those goals," he said. "If those goals are being a successful high school swimmer, at the CIF level, then we have a way to help them with that.

"If they want to be a part of the USA Swimming Junior Nationals program, we focus on that, or the Senior Nationals Program, we have a program to get them to that level. If they want to be a part of the Olympics or whatever international experience they want, we want to be able to provide that as well."

AquaZot produced its first Olympian in 2004 when Caverly took second place in the 200 backstroke at the Olympic Trials held in Long Beach. She went to the Games in Athens and placed 17th.

"I worked with her for quite a while, since she was 8 or 9 years old," Pajer said of Caverly, who graduated from San Clemente High. "She went to Stanford, came back and made the Olympic team."

And now with the Olympic Games taking place in London, it's a chance for Pajer to give his swimmers some tangible evidence of what is possible.

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