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Syrkin, La Cañada swimming turn in sensational Saturday with three CIF titles

RIVERSIDE — Sophomore Danny Syrkin put on a show, records were broken, titles were won, All-American times were had and berths to state were secured as it was an all-around outstanding day for the La Cañada High boys' swimming team on Saturday.

At an overcast CIF Southern Section Division II Swimming and Diving Final at the Riverside Aquatics Center, Syrkin was scintillating to the tune of winning the 100-yard butterfly in a division record 47.48 seconds, adding a championship in the 100 backstroke in 48.47 and swimming the first leg in the Spartans' 200-yard medley relay win that was a year in the making and ended with a division record time of 1:32.98.

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"I'm ecstatic," Spartans coach David Hill said. "I think everybody performed really, really well today. They deserve all the praise and victories they got.

"I'm super happy for Danny. Winning three titles, breaking two records; that's fantastic. I'm blown away by his performance."

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La Cañada, which last won a team championship in 2009 at the end of a four-year dynastic run of titles, placed third with 202 points, just behind second-place Diamond Bar at 205. Foothill won with 249.

"It was really exciting," Syrkin said of the day as a whole. "I think the best was the team race for us."

To conclude the day, the Spartans made a huge jump from their ninth-place finish in the 400 free relay to sixth place to earn that third-place team finish as the quartet of Thomas Hoffman, Eddie Cosic, Joshua Kim and Syrkin on the anchor swam to a state-consideration time of 3:10.04 to pull into their third-place finish for the day.

But it was really the way it all began Saturday that set the tone and expunged a year's worth of bad taste. The boys' 200 medley relay team – Syrkin, Cosic, Hoffman, Matt Bilaver - wasted no time, beginning the day in emphatic fashion with its victory.

A season prior, the Spartans seemingly won the 200 medley relay as they finished first in 1:33.91, but were disqualified for leaving early on one leg of the race.

Fast forward to this season, fast being the prohibitive word, and the Spartans sped to a win in 1:32.98, which set a new Division II standard.

"The relay was so special," Syrkin said. "It's been one year coming.

"We stepped up as a team and I'm so thankful to get a CIF record and title with them."

The time was also an All-American mark.

"Taking that first place back was special," Hill said. "We're happy to come back next year and take down that record again."

Syrkin wasted little time in taking down another record.

Going into the 100 fly as the No. 1 seed, Syrkin lived up the hype with his 47.48 swim, notching the record, All-American status and a state berth.

"I wouldn't say [I felt] pressure; I like to stay calm behind the blocks," said Syrkin, who took third in the race as a freshman. "I trust my training so I don't want to put pressure on myself anymore."

Syrkin did not feel as though all was as phenomenal as it turned out to be as he changed up his strategy before the race in terms of his kicks. But obviously everything worked out excellently.

"I may have rushed my kicks a little bit," he said. "But I can't really complain with a DII record and I'm thankful to have gotten that."

The day of dynamic wasn't done for Syrkin, though. As the No. 3 seed in the 100 back, he pulled off a mild upset to win his third title.

"I was a little bit excited by that," Syrkin said. "The backstroke is a little new to me. I didn't really know what to expect [in Saturday's race]."

In another outstanding swim, Cosic finished fourth in the 100 breaststroke as his time of 57.66 was a state-consideration mark and set a new school record.

Hoffman joined Syrkin in the 100 fly championship final and finished eighth in a state-consideration time of 51.10.

Cosic and Joshua Kim finished back to back in the 200 individual medley consolation final. Cosic was second (11th overall, 1:57.44) and Kim was third (12th overall, 1:57.58).

Saturday was truly a culmination of an excellent week that started on Monday when the Spartans' Ray Wipfli won the 1-meter diving title with a score of 529.70 and teammate Tatsuya Machida took fourth (461.70).

On the girls' side, the Spartans, who like their boys' counterparts won the Rio Hondo League team title, finished 18th (out of 48 teams).

The girls saved their best performance for their last in the 400 relay as they took second in the consolation final (11th overall), as Alexandra Syrkin, Jordan Bryant, Halley Hemphill and Shannon Ring clocked 3:36.99, which is a state consideration time.

Maddie O'Dell, Isabella Caramaschi, Syrkin and Bryant teamed up to finish 14th overall in the consolation 200 medley relay.

In the consolation final of the 200 freestyle, Syrkin took 15th overall in 1:54.71, which was a state consideration time.

Bryant was 17th overall in the consolation 50 free at 24.92.

On the Monday prior, Grace Lee began earning points for the Spartans with a sixth-place finish in 1-meter diving with a 459.95 point total.

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