Inaugural NorCal swim meet draws 17 schools to Roseville complex

By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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High school swimming is getting down to the nitty-gritty, with league and Sac-Joaquin Section meets straight ahead.

Woodcreek decided to give fans a preview before the big show, holding the first NorCal Swimming Championships on April 12-13 at the Roseville Aquatics Complex. The meet featured 17 schools, including powerhouses Davis and San Ramon Valley.

“We just sent it out there that we were going to run a time-trials meet,” Woodcreek coach Grant Guensler said. “You have to qualify for it, so it makes it a higher-quality meet. We’re actually hoping that it will get bigger next year.”

The meet served swimmers with a link between the dual meet structure used for league competition and the championship schedule. With more swimmers (about 375 swam) and heats, competitors had to adjust their preparation.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to swim against really good competition,” Granite Bay coach John Sherman said. “It’s an opportunity to get used to trial finals. In dual meets, you get up, you swim, and that’s your time. As we get closer to championship meets, there are trials on one day and finals on the next. So it’s good preparation for the kids when they swim a two-day meet.”

Roseville-area swimmers had a good showing in Saturday’s finals. Woodcreek took the top four spots in the girls 500-yard freestyle, led by Claire Hammond in a time of 4 minutes, 57:45 seconds, the only time under five minutes and three seconds faster than her qualifying time. Vanessa Dugan, Allyson Fellows and Sydney Bello finished after Hammond.

“They’re all bettering their times,” Guensler said. “They’re coming out ready to race. When you go against faster competition, you swim faster. When we go down to sections, they’ll be seeded higher.”

The Woodcreek girls 400 freestyle team placed second, and the 200 quartet earned third. Woodcreek’s C.J. Pais was second in the boys 100 backstroke, and Lexi Johnson was second in the girls 100 breaststroke.

Granite Bay won the boys 400 freestyle relay with a sizzling time of 3:13:71. Granite Bay freshman Kassidy Henson was second in the girls 100 backstroke, and Grizzlies teammates Kevin Wylder and Ryan Whelan placed second and third in the boys 100 butterfly.

Oakmont’s Alex Kim finished third in the boys 500 freestyle in 4:48:92.