Bender coming up big for BC men’s team


J.R. Hensley

Sophomore Brian Bender chats with a swimmer in another lane (not pictured) after defeating his opponent in the 50-yard freestyle against Clovis Community College on March 25.

Mario Saldaña, Digital Content Editor

Many people know what they’re good at from a young age, and with commitment and determination they improve that talent, especially athletes.

Brian Bender, a big basketball enthusiast, is now a swimmer at Bakersfield College and has been growing a larger interest in the sport.

Bender said, originally, he wasn’t interested in swimming. “I didn’t really like it that much,” he said. “I was more of a basketball player, and then I emailed [Coach] Matt Moon and asked him about the swim team and he said it was really cool, and how determined the team was, what their focus was, and what his philosophy was.

“I just love how there’s no ceiling in the sport, and you can just keep getting better and better.”

Before coming to BC, when he was younger, he swam in the summer recreational league at Rio Bravo Greeley for five years and swam in high school, but was on the team for only a short time, due to basketball season overlapping and he was more focused playing basketball.

Bender’s main hobby is basketball. He loves the sport, he plays it, and his favorite team is the Chicago Bulls.

Like any other athlete, most of them are superstitious, and Bender admitted to being one of them.

His secret ingredient is when he gets onto the block in swimming, he says a little prayer and touches his toes five times and loosens up his back.

Transitioning from high school to college sports felt like a big difference for him.

“The biggest transition I noticed while playing in college is the intensity, probably the yardage. In BC we have a really nice pool facility so we have a lot of room to swim, and in high school we have five to 10 people in a lane, so you don’t really get to work on the small things, and you had to be careful not to kick anyone,” he said jokingly.

Bender is on his second year on the swimming team. His main event is the 100 and 200y breaststroke, and he has been showing leadership and really stepping it up for the team.

He is optimistic about his season individually so far.

“The season is going really well,” Bender said.

“Coach Moon is working us really hard, and he knows that he is. We’re trying to do the best we can every meet, and we had a little drop taper at the Cuesta Invite, so we got some really fast times, and I got better times than last year. I’m looking for a pretty fast season this semester.”

At the 39th annual Cuesta College invitational on March 10-11, Bender won first in the 50-yard breaststroke with 26.85, second in the 200-yard breaststroke with 2:14.16, and third in 100-yard breaststroke with 59.11.

On March 25, at the meet at Bakersfield College with Clovis Community College, he finished first in the 50-yard freestyle and first in 200-yard breaststroke with 2:20.35.

“My favorite meet this season might be the Cuesta Invite, because it was a three-day meet and there are ton of events, and like I said I was pretty fast at that meet. It’s just fun to swim fast, and with the whole team,” he said.

Outside of swimming, Bender is majoring in biology and is looking to transfer to get his B.A. in biology and eventually his teaching credential to become a high school biology teacher.

Bender is really grateful for Moon’s philosophy and how he trains him.

For Bender, Moon has been a leader who pushes him to do his best, even though he can be a pain to Bender at times.


Though he is still thinking about continuing swimming after BC, he does want to swim at a four-year college level but only if the opportunity arrives.

On March 25, during the swim meet at BC, Bender teamed up with Kenneth Rodriguez, Cameron Reeves and Steve Santana to win the 200-yard medley relay in 1:42.62, beating second-place Clovis by six seconds.

Santana placed second in the 200 and 100 freestyles.

Francisco Montoya came in third place in the 200yard breast.

BC’s Jennifer Quan won the 400-yard IM by nearly two minutes in 5:16:81, and Niquelette Rimer took first in the 200 backstroke in 2:28.85.