The future is now for the Sobrato High girls swim and dive team. Nowhere was that more apparent than what the Bulldogs brought to the Central Coast Section Championships May 6-7 at the Santa Clara International Swim Center.
Freshman sensation Zoe Childers was one of the headliners by becoming the only local swimmer who qualified for the second day finals of the Championships. She finished first in the 100 yard butterfly B final, and ninth overall, in 57.54 seconds, improving her time by half a second from the day one preliminary round.
In the 200 individual medley, Childers placed second in the B final, and 10th overall, in 2:06.51. That was nearly a 1.5 second improvement upon her time in the preliminary heat. Bulldogs sophomore Katherine Nicole Lim was the other local competitor who advanced to the finals, placing sixth in 1 meter springboard diving with a solid score of 455.60 points.
Lim was just 2.15 points away from qualifying for the CIF State Championships May 12-14 at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex. Childers and Lim are the foundation for a Sobrato team on the rise. The Bulldogs sent all three of their relay teams—the 200- and 400 free and 200 IM—to the CCS Championships.
Childers was on two of the relay teams. The 400 free relay team of Childers, junior Emily Scott, freshman Kaylyn Nguyen and junior Abby Humphrey finished in 19th place in 3:47.07. Sobrato’s 200 medley relay squad of Childers, Scott, Kaylyn Nguyen and senior Ashley Nguyen finished in 26th place in 1:56.32.
The 200 free relay team of Ashley Nguyen, junior Melina Kwarcinski, sophomore Rachel Hoge and Humphrey took 31st in 1:45.76. Humphrey also went 35.55 seconds in the 50 free for 35th overall. Oakwood sophomore Maddy Weltchek placed 23rd in the 200 IM in 2:14.92 and 25th in the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.17.
Live Oak High had a pair of freshmen who look to pace the program going forward. Ella Call was 23rd in the 500 free in 5:28.87 and 33rd in the 200 free in 2:02.02, while Kaysie Leung was 32nd in the 100 butterfly in 1:01.3.
History was made at this year’s Championships as it incorporated para races in the event for the first time. And a local kid made good as Live Oak High sophomore Alex Hail won the 50- and 100 yard freestyle races in 31.4 seconds and 1:15.65, respectively.
When Hail touched the pad to finish first, it elicited loud applause from the crowd.
“I’ve seen it happen before, but the people in the stands were very enthusiastic for him,” Acorns coach Tom Lebherz said. “He was ecstatic and so happy.”
Hail was one of three para swimmers in the 50 free, and a second para event, the 100 free, had two competitors in it. Lebherz, who was the director of the Championships, has enjoyed coaching Hail for the last two years.
“He’s fun to have around, very friendly, very pleasant,” Lebherz said.
The CCS Board of Managers voted in 2019 to include para events in the Swim Championships. However, there was no event in 2020 due to Covid and no spectators were allowed for last year’s competition.
“So we were never afforded the opportunity to have the para events until this year,” CCS Commissioner David Grissom said. “There’s kind of been a push from the state (CIF) and the (CCS) Board of Managers wholeheartedly backed it. It turned out to be really special. It’s been a real positive for all athletes—not just para athletes—to see some of our special-needs kids participate with us as well.”
For para swimmers to qualify to compete at the CCS Championships, they must have competed with the school’s team during the season. Lebherz said Hail was one of just four boys on Live Oak’s team this season and raced in every dual meet.
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]