Written by Leisha Clendenen
The Big VIII League Championships typically brings out the best for the King swimmers, and this year’s meet at Santiago was no exception. Going for top 16 placements in each event on Tuesday for Thursday’s finals was the goal, with close to all athletes earning the chance for second swims at yesterday’s final League meet.
The team produced seven league champs, eleven runner-up or top three finishes and 22 CIF times met or improved upon. Most impressive was the fact that every swimmer swam to a season best, with many making huge time drops in the process.
Freshman Quincy Cechini and junior Leah Thomas opened the meet with a rare tie and co-league champion title in the 200 freestyle, each dropping more time to earn their CIF time standards. The duo also went on to go 2, 3 in the 500 free and further earning a trip to CIF in the process. The energy remained high for the same event on the boys side with junior Ethan Kolb swimming to a second place finish and CIF berth in a time of 1:45.11. Kolb later would go on to finish just outside of the top spot in the 500 free
Junior Lauren Vitort stepped up big in both of her events, earning the League championship titles in the 200 individual medley and 100 freestyles. Swimming in off events for the sake of the team, helped put the Lady Wolves in contention for a co-League championship. Her near League record setting times earned her automatic CIF times in every event she swam this year, making her the most versatile swimmer of the season.
Abigail Nguyen was another top point scorer in her sophomore campaign, finishing second in the IM with a CIF time and winning the 100 fly, dropping below the elusive 1:00 in a time of 59:35.
Sprinter and team captain Vince Madarang set his expectations high heading into the League meet and finished with a championship title in the 50 free and best time of 49:34 in the 100 freestyle. Teammate Blake Dennis broke in to the top five in both events as well, swimming to CIF marks and personal bests of 22.85 and 49.68.
Molly Thornton dropped over two seconds in the 100 breaststroke from her already season best, swimming to a 1:08. 31 and giving herself the chance for more improvements and next week’s CIF competition.
The relays are always the highlight of any high school event, bringing together the collective efforts of many as opposed to the singular effort of one.
A close second for both the girls and boys teams was the result. One second for the girls and a tenth of a second for the boys was the difference but both earned CIF automatic times in the process.
The girls relay capped off the day with a win against eventual League champ Santiago, dropping five seconds from their previous season best and a CIF time. The boys finished third, dropping close to four seconds.
The atmosphere of the meet is often enough to bring out best times for all, but the spirit of our parents, support crew, timers and teammates helped elevate our athletes’ performance today.
The coaches were extremely impressed with the expectations the athletes set for themselves and how they held each other accountable to reaching those standards. It’s always hard going through the thick of the season to remember the joy that comes at the end, but this season’s end result was certainly one of great joy.
No matter the sport, but especially in one as demanding as swim, athletes do well to remember that the time they put in will yield the fantastic results they experienced at the Finals on Thursday.
The team looks forward to competing at CIF next Friday and Saturday, when all of the best swimmers in the CIF Southern Section compete at RCC.