The times posted at last week’s PAC 7 swimming prelims suggested that plenty of league records might fall at Wednesday’s league finals.
Sure enough, swimmers from San Luis Obispo County schools broke league records in six events at Sinsheimer Pool in San Luis Obispo.
“I was totally expecting that,” Arroyo Grande freshman Zach Stevens said, citing the three-day break between the two meets. “You can just expect people to get better.”
A combined total of 22 times of county swimmers on the boys and girls sides automatically qualified for postseason competition at the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 meet, which will be held May 13-14 at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach. Several others had consideration-level times that could be selected as at-large entries by the Southern Section.
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“Everyone steps up a little bit,” Atascadero junior Dustin Bolt said in comparing the prelims and finals.
Two of the most impressive days belonged to Stevens and Bolt.
Stevens won the 100-yard breaststroke in 57.54 seconds to break his own week-old league record and also finished first in the 200 individual medley in 1:58.87. He was also part of a 200 medley relay team that set a league record at 1:40.31.
Prior to even stepping on campus at the start of this year, Stevens had established himself as a rising star on the national level. In 2006, he clocked a time of 36.16 seconds in the 50-meter breaststroke, which still stands as the fastest 10-and-under boys time in the country, and in 2008, he had a time of 32.23, the second-fastest time ever nationally in the 11-to-12 age group.
“I’m really happy,” Stevens said of his first prep finals experience. “It’s really good coming into (the divisional meet).”
Before the year is over, Stevens is aiming to swim in the high 55-second to low 56-second range in the 100 breaststroke, his premier event, where his time Wednesday exceeded the automatic postseason standard by nearly four full seconds.
Not to be outdone, Bolt broke his own league records in the 200 freestyle (1:44.65) and 500 freestyle (4:39.61).
“It was something I wanted to do after I broke them Saturday,” Bolt said, “so I was really glad I could do that.”
He’s looking to clock times of 1:43 and 4:35 in those two events in Long Beach, respectively.
The other league record set on the boys side came from San Luis Obispo’s 400 freestyle relay team of Alan Peterson, Dom Magliari, Eric Erbstoesser and Graham Johnson (3:15.99).
All four of those Tigers had standout all-around days, and depth carried San Luis Obispo’s boys program to its 11th league title in a row.
“This is probably the most satisfying team win I can remember,” longtime Tigers coach Rick Ernstrom said. “It was just a gratifying win all the way around. When things didn’t go their way, they just hung in there. I’m just so proud of my boys.”
Magliari won the 100 butterfly in 52.94. Erbstoesser and Peterson both had automatic postseason times while finishing second in the 200 (1:45.5) and 500 (4:48.02) freestyles.
Zachary Toomay also had a banner day for Arroyo Grande, winning the 100 backstroke in 54.78 and taking second in the 100 butterfly at 53.86. He’ll swim in both events at Long Beach.
The Tigers’ 558 points topped the 517 of second-place Righetti, while Arroyo Grande’s boys were third at 452. Atascadero was fourth with 199 points, followed by Paso Robles (193), St. Joseph (114) and Pioneer Valley (95).
On the girls side, Arroyo Grande’s Corryn Haynes, Katie Sverchek, Mia Schachter and Claren Ruth won the 200 medley relay in a league-record 1:51.65.
The Eagles won their sixth consecutive girls league title, finishing with 586 points. San Luis Obispo was the runner-up with 495, followed by Righetti (356), Atascadero (287), St. Joseph (211), Paso Robles (196) and Pioneer Valley (24).
Arroyo Grande also had first-place individual showings from Ruth (2:12.79 in the 200 IM) and Schachter (57.15 in the 100 butterfly and 1:06.11 in the 100 breaststroke).