The 2019 Bellarmine Swimming and Diving team enjoyed another successful season in the pool with wins at the Oak Ridge Invitational and the Palo Alto Invitational in the pre-season; the Bells were hopeful for another WCAL title. After a great start against Serra and Mitty, the shorthanded Bells lost a thriller to St. Francis (90-93). Through that defeat, the Bells were re-energized and would not lose again in WCAL play. The Varsity competed in their first California Catholic Invitational and knocked off 8 time champion Santa Margarita for another team title. But the Bell swimmers left their best for the championship season.
After a dominating performance at WCALs, the Swimming and Diving team won their 3rd straight (and 36th overall) CCS Championship. Powered by the leadership of USC bound senior Max Saunders who broke the CCS and Bellarmine records in the 100 Free (43.52), and scored another individual win in the 200 Free (1:36.29). Additionally, Saunders was part of two relay victories in the 200 Free Relay (with Timothy Chou ’20, Kevin Sichak ’21, and Ryan Kirton ’21) and the 400 Free Relay (with Chou, Christopher Roling ’20, and Kirton). Sichak added another individual win in the 50 Free (20.67) and runner up finish in the 100 Fly. Kirton added another second place finish in the 500 Free (4:26.56).
The Bells moved on to the CIF State Championships with 8 qualifiers. Max Saunders ’19 became the first ever individual California State Champion in Bellarmine Swimming and Diving history winning the 200 Free in a school record 1:35.08. The 200 and 400 Free Relay teams each finished third and Ryan Kirton ’21 (500 Free) and Kevin Sichak ’21 (100 Fly) each finished with 6th place individual finishes.
The Bell swimmers achieved 10 All American times, 2 school records, 1 CCS record and a State Champion.
First year swimming coach Mark Taliaferro is a 1987 graduate of Bellarmine. During his time as a swimmer at Bellarmine, Coach Taliaferro was a 4 year All American and 3 year MVP. After graduating, Coach Taliaferro went on to compete at the University of Southern California. As a USA Swimming coach in his 28th year , Taliaferro has produced nearly 150 top 16 national swimmers since 1995, including 8 National Age Group Individual and Relay records and more than 120 Pacific Records. Proudly, Coach Mark's swimmers have gone on to compete for many college programs including Stanford, Cal, USC, Virginia, Georgetown, Yale, Duke, and many more.
Coach Mark has been a USA Swimming Member coach since 1991. He has coached every level of swimming from Learn to Swim to Olympic Trials qualifiers. His goal has always been to help every swimmer reach their greatest potential in the sport. In his career, Mark has been nominated 8 times as Pacific Swimming Age Group Coach of the Year and won the award in 2014. Mark has been married for 24 years to Marianne and they have one son, Justin.