W. Swimming: Former All-American named assistant at Pomona-Pitzer

Former Cerritos All-American Jenel Lopez named assistant coach at Pomona Pitzer
Former Cerritos All-American Jenel Lopez named assistant coach at Pomona Pitzer

After spending two seasons as an assistant women's swimming coach at Biola University, former Cerritos College All-American swimmer Jenel Lopez has been named the lead assistant coach for the Pomona Pitzer University women's swimming team.

During her time at Biola, Lopez assisted in their best seasons in the programs' history. Biola placed third in both men's and women's at the Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference (PCSC) meet and also sent Biola's first NCAA qualifier in history to Nationals. In 2021, Biola won its conference for the first time in program history on both the men and women's side and also sent three women to NCAA DII Nationals where they all placed top-10 in their events. Lopez also programmed dryland for all athletes throughout the year.

Her previous coaching experience also includes coaching at Brea Aquatics during the 2018-19 season and served as a graduate assistant at Concordia Irvine, which is where she attained a graduate degree and assisted in Concordia's men team winning their conference championships in 2019.

In her time as a swimmer for the Falcons, Lopez was named All-American six times in individual races, along with swimming on nine relay teams that earned All-American status, with the 15 serving as a school record for most All-American honors. In fact, three of her individual school records, and three of her relay records still stand for the Falcons. She still holds the school standard in the 50-yard freestyle (24.70), 100-yard freestyle (53.34) and 200-yard freestyle (1.55.24), while she swam a leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:40.52), 800-yard freestyle relay (8:10.27) and 400-yard medley relay (4:07.85), whose times are still the best in Cerritos College history. In conference action, Lopez won six individual championships and was part of two relay championship teams. As a squad, the Falcons won their lone conference championship in her freshman season, while they placed second as a sophomore.

Lopez then moved on to Cal State East Bay, where her success continued. In both seasons for the Pioneers, Lopez was named the school's Female Athlete of the Year and is considered to be the greatest sprinter in their history. She set their school records in the 50-yard, 100-yard, and 200-yard freestyle and led East Bay to a program-best second-place finish at the PCSC Championships and the school's first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Championships in her junior season. Lopez was an honorable mention All-American for her finish in the 200-yard freestyle and also anchored the 200-yard freestyle relay team, which placed eighth in the nation.

In her senior campaign at Cal State East Bay, Lopez continued to break school records. At the Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Championships, Lopez led off the 800-yard freestyle relay with a top-10 200-yard split to help the Cal State East Bay swim team open the championships at Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatic Center. Lopez helped the Pioneers set new program records in both the 800-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relays. Additionally, in the 800-yard freestyle relay final, Lopez posted a 25.48 through the first 50 yards, the best 50-yard split among the 80 competitors. She continued to push through the second 50 yards and final 100 yards of her leg, while her time of 1:50.83 set a new lifetime best and a new program record, taking nearly three seconds off her record-setting time in the 200-yard freestyle from her junior championship time. In addition, the time fell well under the NCAA Championships "B" standard qualifying time and within seven-tenths of a second of the automatic qualifying standard of 1:50.21 for the 200-yard freestyle.

"We are so happy to add Jenel to our group of coaches and the PP Swim & Dive community," said head coach J.P. Gowdy. "Her SoCal roots, Phys Ed background, swimming career and especially the outstanding work she has done to help elevate Biola over the past couple seasons really stood out in our hiring process. She will be an integral part of the continued pursuit of excellence here at PP Swim & Dive."

"I am blessed for the opportunity to coach at one of the top Division III programs, both academically and athletically," said Lopez. "I have felt very supported and welcomed through this transition on to staff. I plan to bring my knowledge and experience to assist in the continued success of Coach Gowdy's program."