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Swimmer gears up for Biola after record-setting career at Sierra
Bulletin swimming 2020
Sierra's Meghan Tolman competes in the 100-yard breaststroke during a Valley Oak League meet in 2019. - photo by Wayne Thallander

With her high school career prematurely ended, Sierra senior Meghan Tolman has already shifted her focus on preparing for college.

The Biola University signee is understandably saddened to not have one last run with the Timberwolves swim team and coach Dave Breitenbucher, but she does go away content with her achievements. Tolman had several record-breaking performances in her three-plus years and is the first female qualifier from the Manteca area to qualify for the California Interscholastic Federation Swimming Championships.

“When I first heard about it I was definitely disappointed I wouldn't be able to go to (the

Bulletin swimming 2020
Sierra senior Meghan Tolman signed with Biola University's swim team this past November. - photo by Contribtued
Sac-Joaquin Section Championships) with my team one last time and then go to state,” Tolman said of the CIF's  cancellation of spring sports caused by the coronavirus outbreak. 

“As the last two months have gone by I've realized I've accomplished all I wanted.”

Tolman owns three school records: the 50-yard freestyle (24.91 seconds), 100 free (53.64) and 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 4.89 seconds). The 100-free mark was set on her final meet as a Timberwolf on March 13 against Weston Ranch. 

“I was aiming for that 100 free record and I'm super blessed to be able to do that,” she said.

Tolman is also a three-time VOL champion in the 200 individual medley and 100 breast. In the 2019 league finale, she shattered a 17-year-old record previously held by former Sierra standout Ja-Neil Bragg in the 100 breast (1:05.58). That was a also a new school record, which only stood for a week — she hit the 1:04.68 at the SJS Finals to place third and qualify for the CIF meet.

In the fifth annual state championships hosted at Clovis Olympic Swim Complex, she placed 34th (1:05.47) in the preliminaries and was named the Manteca Bulletin All-Area Female Swimmer of the Year.

“I was really hoping to go back to state, improving my time and making it back to the second day,” Tolman said. “I also wanted to be the top person in sections after taking third last year.”

Tolman is proud to carry the torch left by her brother Scott, who qualified for the inaugural state meet in 2015 and medaled in two events the following year. He's now starring at Cal Baptist, which is about a 40-mile drive from Riverside to the Biola campus in La Miranda.

Meghan Tolman is excited to start her own SoCal adventure. She has been in contact with her new coaches via FaceTime, receiving tips on how to stay fit for competition until leaving the nest in mid-August. 

While California State Universities and University of California campuses are likely to remained closed to students in the fall, Biola is among the private schools in the state planning to reopen. 

“When I went on my recruiting trip there I noticed the team basically did everything together,” Tolman said. “They had every meal together, hung out before and after practice. It's cool that it's not just a team, but also a family. I can tell with how they acted with each other, and they really wanted to get to know me not just at the surface level.”

It's a familiar environment she is thankful to have experienced at Sierra and with its longtime head coach.

“Honestly, I'm so lucky to have Coach Dave as my high school coach, he's just the best,” Tolman said. “He's like the team dad and is always there for everybody. He's going to be what I miss the most because he's meant so much for me the last four years.”