The Socorro team kicked off 2022 with a visit to the pool at Albuquerque.
Greg Byrd | El Defensor Chieftain


The 23rd Annual Academy Invitational was held on January 7 and 8. Just under a dozen Socorro swimmers took to the pool during the New Year’s event to represent SHS.

“Our team is looking good and we are working hard,” Warriors head coach Diedra Vinson said. “Their dives are getting better and the stroke technique by all of our swimmers are improving. At this meet today we are focused on strong finishes and starts on and off the boards.”

The meet, which was not held in 2021 due to the pandemic, was hosted by Albuquerque Academy Athletics Chargers. Socorro was one of 17 schools invited to the event. Head coach John Butcher was taking care of more than 1,500 athletes coming in and out of the facility.

“Over the summer we try to look at teams and build out a competitive atmosphere,” he said. “For this invite, we try to bring in schools from all over the state instead of just bringing in the elitist schools. This is about trying to get everyone into this facility before the state meet and allowing everyone to compete here.”

Belen, Los Lunas, Socorro, Valencia, Albuquerque High, Hope Christian Academy, Cottonwood Classic, Sandia Prep, Rio Rancho Cleveland, Farmington, Santa Fe High, Santa Fe Prep, Taos High, Artesia and NMMI were all there to hit the water from the diving board to the racing lanes.

Senior Kevin Perez is a senior swimmer for Rio Rancho. A six-year participant in the water, this meet was his first time to compete with his crew since the pandemic began.

“I just wanted something to do and I fell in love with this sport,” he said. “Rio has a great mix of distance swimmers, like myself. But I gotta say, these guys and gals from Socorro can swim with the best. I’m much more worried competing against them than these bigger schools.”

While not finishing first, the Warriors did place in the girls’ 200 Medley, the boys’ 200 Medley, the girls’ 200 Yard IM, the boys’ 200 Yard Freestyle and the girls’ 50 Yard Freestyle.

The team will return to the natatorium next on Feb. 12 for the District 5/6 Swimming Championships.