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August 13, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pineda: Valley High Swimmer Set Records in College

By Lloyd Jojola
Journal Staff Writer
Marlene “Marly” Pineda
Marlene “Marly” Pineda, a Bosque Farms native and former Valley High School star swimmer who went on to be a record-setting athlete in college, died in Boston this week.
Pineda was riding a bicycle on Monday when she was struck by a motor vehicle. The 24-year-old died from her injuries. Services were pending.
“In our life, she was a ray of sunshine,” said Sheryl Pineda, her mother. “She was always happy, outgoing.”
“She was just a dynamic young girl, incredible maturity, very proactive,” said Reed Barnitz, a longtime Albuquerque Public Schools and city-area swimming coach who once hired Pineda as an assistant coach for a summer league. “You would give her an assignment, and she would multiply that assignment 10 times over just on her own initiative.
“She was an extremely effective coach, and I remember our conversation was, ‘Marly, I hope you will major in education so you can stay in the coaching business. …’ She was a very bright girl. She would have been dynamite. She was just one of those people that, they just have it. They understand what their role is and they get up in the morning and go make something happen.”
Pineda was well on her way to making things happen.
She graduated from Valley High in Albuquerque — one December 2003 newspaper report mentioned her as one of the girls leading the way for the swim team during her senior season in which she competed in events such as the 200 and 500 freestyle.
She went on to attend Smith College in Northampton, Mass., on a scholarship and graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in education and child study. Two years later, she earned a master’s in exercise and sports science.
As an athlete, according to the GrécourtGate News of Smith College, Pineda was a four-year member of the swimming and diving team and was named captain during her junior and senior seasons.
“She was named to the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference All-Conference first team in 2007-08 and led the Pioneers to an appearance at the NCAA championships in 2008,” the GrécourtGate News reported.
Pineda broke two Seven Sisters swimming records at the Seven Sisters Championship, and she remains the Dalton Pool record holder in the 1,000- and 1,650-meter freestyle, the story says.
“She was just starting up jobs — she was an assistant coach for the Harvard women’s team, and she was also the head coach for the (Cambridge Masters Swim Club), which is about 200 masters swimmers centered around Harvard University. So she had recently moved to Boston,” said Hess Yntema, who had coached Pineda at the Kirtland Aquatic Club, where she swam for years.
Yntema described Pineda as “cheerful,” “always ready to work,” and “just a wonderful person to be around.”
“Swimming” summed up Marly, Sheryl Pineda said. “That was definitely her passion.”
Pineda started swimming when she was about 8 at a summer league in Los Lunas, and a few years later decided she wanted to swim year-round, her mother said.
“She just had a very competitive spirit; a hardworking spirit,” she said.
Barnitz, who coached swimming at Highland High for many years, recalled coming across Pineda while she was high school swimmer.
“I always noticed outstanding performances, and she was just one of the top 200-yard, 500-yard freestylers in the state, just on guts,” he said. “She was not a big, tall girl … but she raced hard.
“She made everybody else in the race want to throw up trying to stay with her, and she would win races just on (the idea of): ‘When the horn goes off, I’m going to start sprinting, and I won’t stop sprinting until the race is over, and if you don’t want to sprint with me, you’re out of luck.’
“So she was a little bit like a Steve Prefontaine mentality.”
Boston-area news reports state Pineda was struck while riding her bicycle near the Commonwealth Avenue and Warren Street intersection in Brighton. She was rushed to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead. The cause of the accident was under investigation.
Pineda had served as an assistant coach at Smith College, and she also taught swim conditioning while she was enrolled in the exercise and sports science program.
“Like every other kid, she wanted to win a gold medal, and as she grew up realized that probably wasn’t going to happen, not that she ever stopped driving to do it,” Sheryl Pineda said. “But within the last two, three years of her life she was thinking possibly she would be coaching someone who would reach that level. … She was well on her way to working with the top swimmers in the country, and that was her goal.”
Along with her mother, Pineda’s survivors include her father, Eddie, and a sister, Monica.

Read more:ABQJOURNAL OBITS/PROFILES: Pineda: Valley High Swimmer Set Records in College
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