The California Classic is back at Crafton Hills College the weekend of October 25, and the public is welcome to watch potential Paralympians in action.
The annual sporting event found a home in the Yucaipa-based college’s Aquatics Center a few years ago and has since become a favorite of CHC staff, students and faculty.
“It is certainly one of the events I look forward to the most,” said Heather Chittenden, Crafton’s aquatics director. “It’s just a positive event for the campus and the community, and every year we have a good time.”
The Classic is a two-day event where para-athletes compete against one another in hopes of beating records, improving times, and working to secure a spot in the upcoming Paralympics in Tokyo next year. This meet is open to swimmers with a physical, visual or intellectual impairment from all nations.
Last year’s events brought athletes from across the country to compete at Crafton. And this time around won’t be any different, Chittenden said. But you may see some athletes from Yucaipa in the water, including a current CHC student.
“It is an honor to continue the tradition of hosting the California Classic Para Swimming Open for 2019,” said Kevin Horan, President of Crafton Hills College. “This year is extra special as one of our own Roadrunner athletes is participating. To have top para-athletes from all over the country competing on our campus is humbling. We invite the entire Inland Empire community to come out for the event. You will see great competitors and have an opportunity to experience the beauty of Crafton Hills College.”
The Paralympic Games follow the Olympics and are held in the same host city. The games in Rio in 2016 featured 22 sports with more than 4,300 athletes from 159 nations and regions taking part, according to the Games’ website
In order to participate in the Games, para-athletes must “meet strict standards set by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC),” and must qualify for the Games in similar events like the upcoming Classic.
Crafton’s pool is an ideal setting for practicing for the Games. Not only is the space ADA friendly, the pool meets Olympic Games standards as it sits 50 meters by 25 yards. The pool is also seven feet deep from one end to the other and is compatible for long- and-short course training. The California Classic is a Long Course competition.
The Classic comes at a perfect time for Crafton as the inaugural men’s and women’s water polo season winds down. It is also a great event for those looking for a boost of motivation as it is the real-life example of the adage, “Never Give Up.”
“When you see these athletes in the water, you wouldn’t know they have a disability. You wouldn’t ever guess it,” said Chittenden. “It definitely puts things into perspective.”
The California Classic runs from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, October 26, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, October 27. Admission is free, but there is a $5 charge for parking.
Crafton Hills College is at 11711 Sand Canyon Road in Yucaipa. The Aquatics Center is at the north/east side of campus just below parking lot J. To learn more about the upcoming event, go to www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Find-A-Club/Club-Search/California-Classic-Swim-Meet