Dec 05, 2017
BUCKHANNON -- Alyssa Serrano has made an immediate impact on the West Virginia Wesleyan Swim Team. Not bad for a Southern California girl, swimming over 2000 miles from her home in the mountains of West Virginia.
Coach April Gitzen and her swim teams are fresh off a very successful Fall schedule, one which has each squad entering the Winter among the favorites in the newly minted MEC/GMAC Swim Conference. The freshmen have been a key part to this success.
Of the 18 athletes on the men's roster, their are five freshmen, of the 16 athletes on the women's roster, seven are freshmen. Serrano is one of these newcomers that has injected some instant energy into the squad.
Specializing in the 200-Individual Medley and the 100-Breast, Serrano has been an early force. She posted medley victories in the dual meets against Malone, Washington & Jefferson, and Alderson-Broaddus, and showed her versatility by winning the 100-backstroke against Urbana.
Serrano has been swimming throughout her life. Growing up in Murieta, California, her family resides in Riverside County, almost exactly between Los Angeles and San Diego.
"It is about an hour to either city from our house," Serrano said.
Serrano began swimming for the club Mesa Aquatics at the age of seven. She would play some other sports through her middle school and high school days; tennis, soccer, and cross country. But it was swimming where she made her largest mark.
At the age of 16, Serrano switched clubs, and joined the Circle City Aquatics (CCAQ) club. While swimming for the CCAQ team, she qualified for California's elite CIF Meet, and began getting attention from recruiters through her affiliation with the recruit agency NCSA.
Coach Katie Squires was the first initial contact from Wesleyan. Squires stayed in touch with Serrano, and eventually, WVWC was on a short list that also included Franklin Pierce University.
"When I was able to sit down and compare everything between the two schools, everything was pretty much equal. It was a very tough decision," Serrano said. "In the end, I chose Wesleyan because the swim team was more established. I had visited in November, and it was February when I made my decision."
With four dual meet wins, and a close second place finish in the seven-team Corbiere-Merion Classic, the women's team is off and rolling. The Wesleyan men are undefeated.
"That family atmosphere that is here between the two teams is really special," Serrano said. "It is a great experience, and I have never really been involved in anything like this before. You get so excited for each race, because everyone is wanting to win for each other."
Moving to Buckhannon has been a bit of a culture shock for Serrano. Murieta is a town of over 110,000 people, with a metro population of over 300,000. She drove all the way to West Virginia from California with her dad this August to start classes.
"It was a nice family trip," Serrano said. "We went to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Graceland...so many interesting stops"
Serrano is a Health Sciences major, and looking to move back to the West Coast someday and work in the medical field. The options she is currently weighing are Physician's Assistant, Pathologist Assistant, or Pharmacy School.
"Alyssa is a bright young lady with a big future ahead of her at Wesleyan and beyond," Gitzen said. "She is a coachable athlete who is always putting forth her best effort. Her positive attitude has brought new energy into our team, and I have told Alyssa she is going to be something special with her hard work and dedication."
With the championships approaching in two months, Serrano has a lot of hard training to look forward to this winter. She also has something else to look forward to.
"When I came last year to visit, there was a little dusting of light snow. I still have not seen an actual snowfall with some accumulation," Serrano said.
This Spring will be a season of firsts for the young lady from California. Her first experience with a West Virginia winter, and helping her Bobcats chase a title in the first year of the MEC/GMAC Swim Conference.