It was senior day for the Corona del Mar High swimming program during Wednesday's Pacific Coast League meet against University, and the Sea Kings honored their 24-athlete senior class after the meet.
CdM Coach Doug Volding applauded the athletes on the pool deck where he has coached for decades. The day wasn't really about him, or at least he was fine with not taking any of the limelight.
That's been status quo for Volding over his career coaching CdM girls' swimming since 1984. Still, Wednesday's meet surely was significant for him. It was his last home meet at the school. Volding, who turned 68 years old on Tuesday, is retiring from coaching after this season.
"Any time you can beat University, it's nice," Volding said after the CdM girls earned a 95-74 win over their longtime rival Trojans, improving to 2-2 in the Pacific Coast League.
CdM's boys, which Volding is coaching for the first time this season, fell to 3-1 in league after a 97-73 loss to the Trojans.
Volding enjoyed visits from a couple of former swimmers during the meet. One of them was Valerie Thompson (Dalton), who coincidentally now teaches at University.
Thompson, who graduated from CdM in 1992, brought Volding a greeting card. She also took a "selfie" with him.
"He set such a positive tone for teamwork," Thompson said. "The camaraderie among the girls was really good, because he set the tone. A lot of times teams can be all about the individual, but for us, it was all about the group. I just remember being a freshman and having the seniors be really great role models. So as we moved up, we wanted to do that for the girls who were coming in under us."
CdM junior Chloe Harbilas, who won the 200-yard freestyle (1:59.72) and 100 free (55.36) for the victorious CdM girls, echoed that sentiment.
"As a freshman, he was super-welcoming," Harbilas said. "Obviously, I had my water polo friends, but I didn't know how high school swimming was going to be. He definitely welcomed the freshmen in and made it a safe environment, while still pushing me."
Senior Nicole Lin was the other double-winner for the CdM girls, taking the 50 free (25.13) and the 100 breast (1:09.16). Senior Emily Ritner won the 500 free (5:33.30), while CdM senior Jaleh Moaddeli was second in that race as well as the 200 free. Freshman Leora Rose won the 100 fly, in 1:00.69.
Sophie Wallace also earned two second-place finishes for the Sea Kings, in the 50 free and 100 free. CdM also won the 200 medley relay with Rose, Lin, Sarah Lawson and Harbilas, as well as the 400 free relay (Lin, Wallace, Moaddeli and Harbilas).
Senior Ethan Archer led CdM's boys, winning the 100 backstroke (53.45) and the 200 free (1:45.35). Other event winners included freshman Tanner Pulice in the 200 IM (1:58.33), and junior Ryan Schildwachter in the 100 breast (1:00.33).
Volding was also impressed that the 400 free relay team, featuring Pulice, Mitchell Cooper, Davis Wong and Archer, touched first in 3:16.41, a three-second drop in time.
"That shows me that they didn't ever quit," said Volding, knowing the meet was long since decided at that point.
Next up for Volding on Thursday is his final Battle of the Bay swim meet at rival Newport Harbor. He knows the Sailors are tough on both the girls' and boys' sides this season.
Still, Volding is looking forward to it. And why not?
"It's been quite a successful program, but it's the kids, the girls all of those years," he said. "Winning is fun, but it's the relationships with the athletes."