2-Time State Swim Champ Melissa Cienega Early Signee To Cal Baptist

Melissa Cienega (sitting center) is all smiles as she signs her national scholarship letter of intent with Cal Baptist University on Monday. She is joined by her father Julio (left sitting), sister Nicole (right sitting), and standing from left to right: PCC equipment attendant Dana Stoddard, Lancers head coach Terry Stoddard, and PCC athletic director […]

Melissa Cienega (sitting center) is all smiles as she signs her national scholarship letter of intent with Cal Baptist University on Monday. She is joined by her father Julio (left sitting), sister Nicole (right sitting), and standing from left to right: PCC equipment attendant Dana Stoddard, Lancers head coach Terry Stoddard, and PCC athletic director Tony Barbone, photo by Sara Medina.

Melissa Cienega goes into her sophomore season on the Pasadena City College women’s swim team in 2018 knowing her next destination. She signed a scholarship Monday to attend California Baptist University (Riverside).

Cienega earned the 2016-17 PCC Women’s Athlete of the Year for all sports after a phenomenal freshman year in the pool. She swam to CCCAA state titles in the 500 and 1,650-yard freestyle events and earned a second place in the 200 freestyle. She had All-American times in five different events, including the second fastest community college time in the nation for her gold medal in the mile swim (17:46.85).

In signing with CBU, she not only remains a Lancer for her collegiate career, she will be likely swimming on the very first NCAA Division I team at the university. Cal Baptist announced in January that it would accept an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and transition all of its sports from Division II to the coveted D1 group in the 2018-19 season.

“It’s a great opportunity for Melissa who will continue to strive for big things with us this coming season,” said PCC head coach Terry Stoddard. “At Cal Baptist, she will only continue to get better and race against some of the best swimmers in the nation.”

From John Marshall High in Los Angeles, Cienega said she chose CBU after also receiving recruiting interests by Pepperdine, UC San Diego and San Diego State.

“I visited their campus and really loved it right away,” Cienega said. “Another thing that impressed me was that the Cal Baptist coach came and watched me swim at the state championships. By offering a scholarship, that showed me how much the coach liked what he saw. My goals at PCC this coming season is see if I can win three state titles, and maybe break the 5-minute mark in the 500 free.”

Cienega is a biology major.

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