On the first day of spring, the Fountain Valley High girls' swimming team hit the road Tuesday for its Sunset League opener at Los Alamitos.
The Barons girls owned this season last year. Fountain Valley won its first league title since 1997 and went on to finish fifth in CIF Southern Section Division 1.
On Tuesday, however, it was the Griffins who perhaps established themselves as the team to beat in league.
Host Los Alamitos swept the meet. The Griffins girls beat Fountain Valley 105-65, while the boys earned a 108.5-61.5 victory. Los Alamitos, which also swept at Edison on Friday, improved to 2-0 in league in both genders.
From a points perspective, the Los Alamitos girls won or tied every event of the early showdown until the meet-ending 400-yard freestyle relay, in which Fountain Valley's Katelyn Dang, Hannah Farrow, Megan Le and Shayla Erickson touched first in 3 minutes 42.68 seconds.
Senior Bayley Weber, who is going to USC for water polo, won the 100 free (53.47 seconds) and 200 free (1:52.50) for Los Alamitos. In the latter event, she out-touched Erickson, who came back to easily win the 500 free for Fountain Valley in 5:03.10.
Weber also anchored the Griffins' winning 200 medley and 200 free relays. In the free relay, the hosts' Sydney Rouse, Natalia Banos, Lucinda Marvel and Weber touched in 1:41.33, narrowly beating out Fountain Valley's Abbie Nelson, Sarah Hopkins, Le and Dang (1:41.58).
"It was really fun," said Rouse, a senior who has signed with UC Santa Barbara. "We lost a lot of seniors last year, but we have a really great group of girls. They all brought it today. I'm really happy, and I feel like everybody else is really happy. There's a lot of competitive people [on the team], so it's fun."
Rouse was another double-event winner for Los Alamitos, in the 50 free (24.32) and 100 backstroke (58.44).
"This group of girls, they train hard and they compete hard," Los Alamitos coach Dave Carlson said. "It's fun to be around. They were more concerned about the points today than their times. Throughout the meet, they were asking what the score is, rather than what were their individual times. It's a really unselfish group."
Farrow won two events for Fountain Valley, the 200 individual medley (2:05.94) and the 100 butterfly (56.84). Second-place finishers for the Barons included Nelson in the 50 free and breaststroke, as well as Dang in the 100 free.
"[Los Alamitos] definitely came out strong, but you know, it's our first league meet," said Nelson, Fountain Valley's team captain. "We still have time to work on things before league [finals] … Hopefully we can take them at league. I think we just need to improve on our finishes in some of our races, but I think we still swam well."
Nelson said the 200 free relay will be one to watch for Fountain Valley. Carlson said he stacked that relay with many of his fastest swimmers, but the Barons still nearly won the race.
"We've been changing the order a little," said Nelson, who swam leadoff on Tuesday. "I'm excited for that [race] at [league] prelims and finals. We have a lot of people who can swim a fast 50 free."
Ivan Nghi led the Fountain Valley boys as a double-event winner in the 200 IM (1:57.90) and the 100 breaststroke (1:00.29). Joshua Doan won the 200 freestyle in 1:49.73.
But Los Alamitos, led by 50 and 100 freestyle winner Gabe Browning, was again too strong.
"We've got a lot of work to do, for sure," said Fountain Valley coach Christine Locke, whose team swims at Newport Harbor on March 27.