Corona del Mar High girls' swimming coach Doug Volding is always a bit apprehensive before the Battle of the Bay swim meet.
He had reason to be nervous Wednesday. Volding found out shortly before the meet began that one of his top club swimmers, freshman Nicole Lin, would be out of action.
Volding wasn't positive why, though he heard she may have hurt her shoulder. For the Sea Kings, who were already missing one of their best sprinters in Sami Pratt (dislocated collarbone), this was obviously cause for concern.
Somehow CdM made it work against rival Newport Harbor. Four days before Easter Sunday, the Sea Kings used an amazing Grace to come out ahead.
Junior Grace Morgan stepped in for Lin on both freestyle relays and swam well. And host CdM pulled away down the stretch, earning its third straight Battle of the Bay victory by a 92-78 score.
The CdM boys won their seventh straight Battle of the Bay, 104-66, over Newport Harbor.
CdM's girls won seven events, including both of those freestyle relays. Morgan joined Meagan Popp, Maddie Musselman and Stephanie Samudro to win the 200-yard free relay in 1:41.07. Then CdM won the 400 free relay with the same four swimmers, in 3:43.20. CdM's "B" relay of Sarah Lawson, Shannon Frome, Bridgett Storm and Eliza Britt finished second, giving the Sea Kings a 12-2 edge in the event and making the final score a bit misleading.
"This is an example of girls stepping up," Volding said. "They had to today."
Prior to the final relay, neither team had led the meet by more than four points.
Popp win the 200 freestyle in 1:53.33, and the 100 back in 59.92 seconds. Samudro was another double winner, capturing the 100 fly (57.28) and 100 breast (1:05.31).
Newport Harbor senior Marissa Robertson, bound for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, was a double winner for the Sailors. She won the 50 free in 24.39 and the 100 free in 54.19. Robertson also anchored the 200 free relay that also featured Carlee Kapana, Heidi Fults and Kate Pipkin, nearly catching Samudro at the end.
Robertson said her split of 23.90 seconds was a lifetime best.
"She's the heart and soul of our team," Coach Brian Melstrom said. "I don't think she's lost a race this year."
Kate Yasko won the 200 IM in 2:23.14 seconds for Newport Harbor, followed closely by teammate Morganne Goodson. The Sailors also won the meet-opening 200 medley relay, with Robertson, Kapana, Yasko and Fults touching in a quick 1:55.64. But the "B" team, which finished second, was disqualified.
Instead of the Sailors being up 12-2 to start the meet, the lead was only 8-6.
"I feel like our concentration at times was lacking," Melstrom said. "That DQ in the very beginning hurt us ... [but] I'm happy with the competitiveness that we bring. We kept it close."
Emily Ritner won the 500 freestyle for CdM in 5:32.74, followed by teammate Marina Coskinas in 5:35.80. Morgan also was third in both the 50 and 100 free.
It wasn't as close on the boys' side. CdM Coach Barry O'Dea was pleased. O'Dea said he ramped up the workload in practice on Monday and Tuesday, coming off spring break.
"We weren't flying today, but we still put up some pretty good times," O'Dea said.
Senior Liam Karas, a Princeton commit, won the 200 IM in 1:53.72 and the 100 free in 47.95. He also swam on the meet-ending 400 free relay team, which also featured Justin Hanson, Tyler Lin and Tim Hanson and won in 3:16.89.
Karas said he was fairly pleased with the times for this point in the season.
"It's a really good racing experience," said Karas, a dedicated club swimmer with AquaZots, of swimming high school. "On our club team, we go to a meet like once a month, and that's our only real racing experience. In high school, we have an opportunity to race every week, which is fantastic ... All of the swim meets are fun, but Battle of the Bay is on another level, just because it's Battle of the Bay."
Lin won the 100 breast in 57.87. Justin Hanson won the 100 fly in 50.83, while Tim Hanson captured the 500 free in 4:41.99.
CdM's Taylor Cortens won the 100 back in 53.65, and the Sea Kings also won the meet-opening medley relay. Ethan Archer, Lin, Justin Hanson and Jon Polos finished in 1:38.19.
Newport junior Hayden Hemmens won the 200 freestyle in 1:44.62, and the Sailors also captured the 200 free relay as Jason Trzeciecki, Dominik Folkner, Hemmens and Jack Mooers touched in 1:28.57.
Sailors senior Luca Cupido, the 2013 Newport-Mesa Player of the Year in boys' water polo, won the 50 free from lane six in 22.19 seconds. He also won the race despite his goggles falling off and landing in his mouth.