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The Pioneer

Swimming standout transitions to land

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ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

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Land and water, both are essential to human existence. For some people it’s more than just existing, but of mastering the terrain they set out to conquer.

For Cal State East Bay’s Alyssa Tenney, it has become a transformation process. The senior cross-country runner is in her fifth and final year of athletic eligibility, but has transferred her athletic ability from one sport to another.

For the past four years, Tenney was a standout in the pool for the women’s swim team. She ended her career last season with two records: the fastest 400 individual medley swimmer — with a time of 4:31.90 — and part of two team school records for the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

While she didn’t master water, she became better than most.

After her swimming career wrapped up last spring, she entered the third annual 5K at East Bay on April 26 and nearly won the whole thing. Tenney finished the race at 21:01, which nabbed her fourth place overall and first out of all the women — she had never run in any organized cross-country events prior to the SK.

“I ran the 5K just because I like to work out and stay in shape,” Tenney said. “I guess the word got out that I run after that.”

The word reached first-year cross-country Head Coach Tony Nicolosi, who took notice of her talent.

When Nicolosi arrived at CSUEB in early August, he wasn’t sure if he would have enough runners to field a team. But when someone mentioned to him that Tenney won the 5K at East Bay, he began to recruit her.

“I asked her if she was interested in being a part of the team,” Nicolosi said. “It was really an emergency situation for us, where we just wanted to make sure that we had enough bodies to field a full team.”

It didn’t take much convincing from Nicolosi. Soon after their conversation, Tenney began the transition to cross-country.

“Going in, I thought it would be similar,” Tenney said. “I was wrong. Swimming is nothing like cross-country.”

Tenney explained that in swimming you are surrounded by people and constantly reminded of how far along you are during a race. However, in cross-country, you are alone or in limited numbers and you have to set your own pace for the distance.

She’s competed in three collegiate events so far: the Fresno State Invitational, Stanford Invitational and San Francisco State Invitational. Her former swimming coach at CSUEB, Ben Loorz is not surprised by her success.

“She was able to adapt to our strenuous strength and conditioning regimen very well, and was rarely, if ever, sick or injured,” Loorz said.

“[Her swimming background] will certainly be an advantage. She is accustomed to pushing through pain barriers.”

The environmental studies major is set to graduate after the fall quarter and has just one event left in her collegiate career to make an impact.

The California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference Championships are on Sunday at 9 a.m. at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. This is the last event of the year and determines who will qualify for the NCAA Division II West Regionals set for 9 a.m. on Nov. 7 in Monmouth, Oregon.

“Swimming has given her a huge advantage as she switches over to full time running,” Nicolosi said. “Working on endurance and persevering through pain and discomfort are two of the primary focuses in our sport, and she had to do that every day in the pool.”

Despite the late start and introduction to the sport, Tenney is confident that her athletic background has helped her ease into the transition process.

“This isn’t going to be a fairy tale type of situation,” Tenney said. “I am so behind and learning everyday. I will never catch up but I know the shape I have l kept myself in will help me with running.”

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