Water babies: Profiles of water polo, swim and dive athletes

Maxim Grinfeld
Maxim Grinfeld


Maxim Grinfield started playing water polo last summer and can play mostly every position in this sport. He feels as though he’s improved a lot this season, especially in the areas of speed and aggressiveness.

“He’s small but mighty,” said water polo teammate Anthony Dracic.

With the aid of Grinfield, the Patriots water polo finished with a solid 19-7 record and finished in fourth place overall this season. In addition to being a part of Birmingham Community Charter High School’s (BCCHS) water polo team, Grinfeld is also on the swim team.

Grinfeld, a sophomore, has a clear set of ambitions when it comes to swimming. His main goal is to get a 103 on his 100-meter breaststroke. As for water polo, his number one goal is common among athletes, but very team-oriented.

 “I want to continue improving and I would also like to play for the championship next year. That’s why I play,” said Grinfield, whose main position on the water polo team is left-winger.

The BCCHS water polo team has been victorious in the playoffs several times. In 2009, they won the Los Angeles California Interscholastic Federation City Championships. In 2012 and 2010, they came in second place in the championship playoffs.


Arianna Aguayo
Arianna Aguayo

Freshman swimmer Arianna Aguayo has a very supportive attitude when it comes to competition.

“Arianna is very valuable to the team because she shows a lot of dedication and she is always determined to do well,” teammate Joanne Taborda said.

Overall, Aguayo is improving because her swim times have been exceedingly great. One of her goals is not to only master her swim times but also to convince her parents to let her go to practice everyday at 2:30 p.m.

One of the challenges Aguayo faced was that she lost her cap and had her goggles stolen multiple times. Even though she had those challenges, she is still looking forward to joining the swim team this upcoming year.

Before Aguayo was on the team, she thought it was going to be easy. She wished she could have pushed herself harder because she almost did not make the team. Her uncle also encouraged her to never give up.

Being in the swim team affected her schedule because practice ends at 5 p.m. every day and when she gets home, she has tutoring to go to. But this helps her be responsible and organize her time. Aguayo has also had to change her diet so that she can stay healthy in and out of the pool.

Since she has a pool at home,  she is able to practice outside of school, too.

“I felt happy when I made it into the team because it showed me that people can accept you no matter how you look,” Aguayo said.

Theresa Carter
Theresa Carter


Through the rigorous practices and workout schedules, junior Theresa Carter was bumped up to the varsity swim team.

Despite health complications, Carter still managed to do well in this year’s Birmingham Community Charter High School (BCCHS) swim team. At their swim practices, they do a series of workouts that strengthens their arms and their legs. Alongside their workouts, they also practice diving.

By putting in plenty of time and a lot of hard work and determination, Carter was able to improve her 100 fly and achieve a better time.

“She’s a good swimmer because she had been experienced for a long time,” said Evelyna Popoyan, a close friend of Carter who is also in the BCCHS swim team.

Carter has been swimming since she was four years old. The strength she has built up in her arms is what enabled her to move to the varsity team. Now she is working harder to do better in her breath strokes and training her legs.

Carter also enjoys playing water polo for fun and also enjoys hockey and football.

“I like to swim because you don’t focus on the other stuff in your life…you just focus on taking breaths and stroking and swimming fast,” Carter said.

Evelyna Papoyan
Evelyna Papoyan


Daniel Pearl Magnet High school’s Evelyna Papoyan took a dive by trying out for this year’s swim team. This year being her first year, tensions were high when trying out but she stayed steady and focused. Making junior varsity (JV) as a freshman is exciting, but staying humble is always key.

“I was nervous during try outs, because all the other girls were so good,” Papoyan said.

Winning every meet this year, the JV swim team is off to a bright future. Collectively, the team has set a target in the 200 medley in the California Interscholastic Federation’s playoffs for third place. Earning third place would show the dedication that has been invested.

Papoyan almost did not choose to try out for the swim team.

“I almost tried out for volleyball or golf but something about swim stood out,” she explained.

Papoyan doesn’t plan on approaching swim as a career, but would love to continue throughout high school.

Teammate Rosemary Vasquez sees Papoyan as a good sport.

“She pushes people on the team to get better,” Vazquez said.

Rebekah Spector
Rebekah Spector


Freshman Rebekah Spector successfully balances academics with sports by being a part of Birmingham Community Charter High School’s swim and tennis team while studying as an honor student.

Spector participates in about four events every swim competition and considers one of her greatest achievements to be using her specialty backstroke to win against Granada Hills Charter High School.

She has been swimming competitively since she was in fourth grade, but has always loved swimming. Spector even referred to herself as having always been a “water baby.” Spector also plays on the junior varsity tennis team, which she was encouraged to do by her older brother this past semester.

“Rebekah has never missed a meet with either of her teams,” said Micayla Rendon, one of Spector’s best friends. “She is extremely committed.”

Four years ago, Spector was stung by a bee while in the pool. Five days later, Spector was stung by yet another bee while swimming. This was a major dilemma because Spector is allergic to bees and almost lost one of her fingers.

After the scare of being stung twice, Spector went on a hiatus from swimming until she eventually worked up the courage to get back in the water the summer before she started the ninth grade.

Spector enjoys swimming and playing tennis, but does not plan on pursuing either as a profession. She will continue to play tennis with her brother for fun, and will definitely continue competitive swimming. She has not decided on what profession she is planning to take although she is considering to become a teacher.

“No matter how much I have to do between school and sports, it’s important that I stay positive and always make time time for being a kid,” Spector said.

Joanne Taborda
Joanne Taborda


Having been swimming since she was six, freshman Joanne Taborda’s experience helped the swim team defeat the rival Taft High School Toreadors.

Taborda is a good young contributor to the team. Though her team has never made it to the playoffs, she is devoted to getting them there through hard work and practice.

 “We practice for two hours every day five days a week. Swimming in different strokes so we can stretch everything in our bodies,” Taborda said.

Taborda wants to get a scholarship to a UC school and swim at the collegiate level.

“She is great when it comes to being underwater “ teammate Arianna Aguayo said.

Rosemary Vasquez
Rosemary Vasquez


Rosemary Vazquez is No. 1 in breaststroke on the swim/dive junior varsity team at Birmingham Community Charter High School.

This season, the team won seven out of eleven meets. Vazquez, who is a sophomore, has contributed greatly by  always trying her best. Vazquez joined the team because she wanted to be healthier and learn to work well with others.

“She has improved as a swimmer and becomes a greater asset to the team every day,” said teammate Joanne Taborda.

Vasquez was “made for the water.” She’s been swimming since about the age of two. Her aunt, who was a lifeguard, taught her. Since then, Vazquez’s skills have grown.

During one meet, she got second place for breaststroke, which was a big goal of hers. Vazquez also hopes to excel in water polo. She tries to accomplish her goals by always pushing herself to be better.

These profiles were written by Journalism 1 students in May. If an athlete’s profile is missing, the student assigned to write it didn’t submit it.