RIVERSIDE — The 200-yard medley relay, with four different strokes, takes a lot of talent to swim fast.
The Corona del Mar High girls' swimming team, then, made quite a statement in the opening race of Saturday night's CIF Southern Section Division 1 swimming finals at Riverside City College.
Junior Meagan Popp, freshman Nicole Lin, senior Stephanie Samudro and junior Sami Pratt finished a strong fourth place in 1 minute, 46.40 seconds. They lowered their school-record time from preliminaries by nearly a full second.
CdM had several other strong swims Saturday, helping the Sea Kings achieve a fifth-place finish. Santa Margarita won the girls' team title.
CdM finished second last year, but graduated every significant contributor but Samudro off that team.
"It just shows how consistent we are with our program," CdM assistant coach Stephanie Gabert said. "We've been able to stay up in the rankings, and this year we won league. We haven't done that since my junior year [in 2006]. It's awesome."
Pratt stepped in on the relays at the end of the season as the Sea Kings swam at CIF without sophomore Maddie Musselman, who had a water polo commitment. Pratt, who battled through a collarbone injury during the season, was a trooper.
"She really totally stepped it up at the end of the season," Gabert said.
Popp, Lin, Samudro and Pratt also finished seventh in the 200 freestyle relay, in 1:38.19. And Popp, a junior, led the individual swims as well.
Popp placed fifth in the 200 free in 1:48.95, dropping nearly a full second off her preliminaries time that was already a school record. And she also lowered her school-record time in the 500 free, finishing third in 4:50.35.
"I feel like I trained really hard for this, and I'm glad it paid off in the end," Popp said. "My goal in the 200 was that I really wanted to go a [1:48]. I just set my mind to it, and I'm really happy that it came out that way."
The UNLV-bound Samudro was less happy with her swims, which were each a bit slower than at preliminaries. But she still placed well in her signature events, the ones she's been swimming at CIF since she was a freshman at San Marino High. She placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:03.33) and also tied for fourth in the 100 butterfly (55.47).
"I mean, I gave it my best, I was just not hitting my times," Samudro said. "I definitely had higher expectations for my races."
Lin finished 11th in the 50 free (24.22). She also was 18th in the breaststroke (1:06.55).
CdM also earned points in diving, where junior Tabitha Krebs placed eighth. Freshman Jennifer Wetton was 34th.
Newport Harbor's lone girl in an individual event Saturday night was Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-bound senior Marissa Robertson. She placed 14th in the 50 free, in 24.46 seconds.
"It was OK," Robertson said. " It was not as well as I'd hoped to do, but I'm done. You can't be too upset … I'm definitely ready for college swimming and that whole new chapter. I got personal bests in almost everything I swam, so you can't really complain. It was a strong season."
Newport Harbor's Robertson, Carlee Kapana, Morganne Goodson and Kate Pipkin also swam in the consolation final of the 200 free relay, but suffered a disqualification. However, as Kapana's mother Susan noted, Kapana and Pipkin are the only girls who can say that they both played in the Division 1 girls' water polo final and swam at Division 1 finals this year.
Laguna Beach, the Division 1 champion in water polo, swims in Division 3.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun