Sobrato High senior Jacob Hatch won the 100 yard backstroke and took second in the 100 free in the BVAL Santa Teresa Division Finals.

Annie Ly continues to show why she’s one of the South Valley area’s most versatile swimmers after winning two races in the Blossom Valley League Santa Teresa Division Championships on April 17 at Sobrato High. Ly captured the 200-yard individual medley and 100 butterfly in preparation for the upcoming Central Coast Section Championships, where she enters with the 14thfastest seed time in the 100 butterfly, at 58.51 seconds

In the BVAL division finals, swimmers had to compete over two days, with the first being the trials a day before the finals. 

“In the trials I think I did pretty good for not being tapered for this meet at all,” she said. “I wore my fast (swim) suit, an older one in the finals and hit near my best times, which is good going into CCS. I feel like I can go faster.”

Ly was one of a handful of local swimmers who won individual races or was part of a winning relay team. Other Sobrato winners included KellyAnn Lim (1-meter diving) and Jacob Hatch (100 backstroke). The Sobrato girls 400 free relay team of Ly, Helena Batey, Sofia Aliamus and Molly Foster took second in 3:52.73, easily hitting the CCS qualifying time. The same four girls teamed placed third in the 200 free relay, hitting a CCS cutoff time of 1:45.19. 

The Sobrato boys 200 free relay team of Hatch, Stephen Parker, Anthony Anderson and Kyle Nguyen placed third in 1:34.62, setting up a potential first-place finish next year as only Nguyen graduates. Hatch had a second-place showing in the 100 free in 49.74 seconds, while Batey had a second- and third-place finish, respectively, in the 200 free and 100 free. 

Lim easily won the diving competition with 330.30 points. Live Oak, which competed in the Mount Umunhum Division Championships at Gunderson High, saw Karinne Leong perform well yet again, as she won the 100 back stroke in 1:02.75 and placed second in the 50 free in 27.83 seconds. Teammate Lauren Nishikawa  placed second in the 200 free in 2:26.62, and Melanie Klem took second in the 100 free 1:06.30.

On the boys side, Colin Edgar closed out his career in fashion with victories in the 100 fly (55.95) and 500 free (5:09.89), while Max Klein won the 200 free in 1:59.62 and took second in the 100 free in 54.54. Rhett Thorson placed second in the 200 IM in 2:23.28, and the boys 200 free relay team of Edgar, Klein, Thorson and Ethan Caspillo was victorious in 1:38.54. 

Although Ly didn’t hit any personal-records (PRs), she is swimming well and could be on the verge of hitting her fastest times ever at CCS. 

“In the 200 IM, I’m hoping to go under 2:09, maybe 2:08 or 2:07,” she said. “In the 100 butterfly, I was close to hitting my best time even though I wasn’t feeling rested. The goal is to make the finals (of the two-day event).”

Ly was flat-out dominant in the 200 IM, winning by 7 seconds. She was also strong in winning the butterfly by 2 seconds. Ly had a steely-eye focus in each race, especially in the IM when she had no one close to her by the start of the third stroke. 

“It’s my own race and you kind of have to put blinders on and just stay in your lane,” she said. “No matter what is happening around you, you’re swimming your own race and can’t be affected by anything else.”

Ly has learned to use the nervousness she feels before every important race to her advantage. 

“I think nerves are a part of what goes into racing, and I use that to help me go faster,” she said. “If I’m not nervous, I usually won’t do as well. You channel your nerves and surprise yourself at the end hopefully with a good time.”

The Sobrato girls relay teams found its best combination of the season, as Ly, Batey, Foster and Aliamus were swimming together for the first time this season. 

“Relays have been pretty fun this season, but we’ve been switching it up a lot trying to figure out who is best for the relays,” Ly said. “This is a new group dynamic, and I’m glad it worked out for us.”

Entering the division finals, Hatch hadn’t hit a CCS qualifying time in his signature event, the 100 back stroke. That’s because this was just the third time he had done the event this season, as he was put in other races to pile up points for the team in the dual meets. Knowing he needed to deliver, Hatch did just that. 

“I definitely was nervous for qualifying, but still somewhat confident I was going to make it to CCS,” he said. “There was that side of me that was preparing for the worst. … I’m happy with the way I swam. I felt like it was a good week for me. I’d like to say I was pumped up (after some of the races), but not to the point where everyone could tell.”

Hatch was also excited that the 200 free relay team hit a season best in the event, narrowly missing the CCS cutoff time. 

“I’m proud of my team because they all pulled through, we were right there and almost made it to CCS,” he said. 

Hatch plays water polo year-round, and uses swimming to enhance his speed, endurance and make him a stronger water polo player. However, there is an aspect of swimming that water polo can’t replicate. 

“For me I like the fact that it’s all on you,” he said. “(If you don’t get the job done) it’s no one else’s fault but your own. You have coaches and they have a part in your success, but it’s only you who is swimming out there and no one else can do it for you.”

In his final high school swim meet, Klein went out like a champion. He hit PRs in all four events he entered—two individual and two relays—leaving him with a deep sense of satisfaction, especially when he raced in the relays. 

“Colin, Ethan, Rhett and I are all pretty happy with how we did in the relays,” Klein said. “I’ve never felt as connected to those guys as I did when it was the last time I got on the starting blocks. Colin and I are seniors, but the other two guys I’ve known for a long time through water polo. The great thing about our swim team is we’re like a family, especially the senior guys who play water polo together. We’ve been through it all, and with the underclassmen there is a strong sense of community.”

Even though water polo is Klein’s best and No. 1 sport, he loves the simplicity of swimming and the broad appeal the sport has in attracting athletes of all backgrounds to the sport. 

“It definitely appeals to a wider amount of people,” he said. “Every year it opens to a new combination of people who otherwise you wouldn’t come in contact with.”

Similar to Ly, Klein uses the nervous tension he has before races to his advantage. 

“At the end of the day, once you’re on the block, it all fades away and you’re focused on going super fast,” he said. “You block any negatives thoughts out and go 100 percent.”

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