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Pasadena City College’s Cienega Sets School Record, Wins State 500-Freestyle Title

Melissa Cienega with her PCC coach Terry Stoddard after the freshman won the state 500-yard freestyle title Thursday night at the CCCAA State Championships meet at East Los Angeles College, photo by Richard Quinton. For 450 yards, Sierra Cox looked like she would repeat as the CCCAA state women’s swim champion in the 500-yard freestyle. […]

Melissa Cienega with her PCC coach Terry Stoddard after the freshman won the state 500-yard freestyle title Thursday night at the CCCAA State Championships meet at East Los Angeles College, photo by Richard Quinton.

For 450 yards, Sierra Cox looked like she would repeat as the CCCAA state women’s swim champion in the 500-yard freestyle. The Orange Coast College sophomore was steady early on and seemed to be breezing without worry. What she didn’t realize was that objects or people are closer than they appear. Pasadena City College freshman Melissa Cienega snuck up on Cox and passed her in the final 10 yards for a stunning gold medal victory.

Cienega won in a new PCC school record time of 5:03.83, breaking the mark set by Shannon Cheung in 2014 of 5:06.26. She made up 1-1/2 seconds over the final 50 yards to pass a shocked Cox, who finished with the silver at 5:04.13.

Cienega joined Cheung as the only state champions in PCC women’s swim history. Cheung won the 200 individual medley and 1,650 freestyle state titles in 2014.

“Melissa showed a lot of heart,” said PCC head coach Terry Stoddard. “In longer races, you don’t see too often someone lead for as long as Sierra did and not finish ahead. Melissa was just very determined and wanted that win bad. She seemed to gain speed in that last 50 and it was enough to pull out the victory. One of the great swims in PCC history.”

Jocelyn Jo picked up an eighth place medal in the 200 individual medley after scoring a heat victory in the morning prelim. Jo swam a 2:13.94 in the finals.

Pasadena is currently tied for 15th in the team standings with West Valley (31 points each) after one day of the CCCAA Championships held at East Los Angeles College. The state meet continues on Friday and Saturday.

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Pasadena Sports Now reports on every intramural sport for all Pasadena high schools. We cover both boys and girls teams. It is published by: Editor is Brian Reed-Baiotto

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