Bob Baldocchi had some rather grandiose plans for Tuesday evening at East Los Angeles College.
For the main course, the El Camino Real swimmer wanted two City records. For dessert, he figured it would be nice if his team collected its eighth straight City championship.
Baldocchi, a powerful junior, made sure all the items on the menu were taken care of as he put on a spectacular individual performance in leading El Camino Real to a 235-210 victory. Venice was runner-up.
“We didn’t win the league and so I think we were really up for this tonight,” Baldocchi said. “It’s nice to win league and I’m not taking anything away from Birmingham, but this is what it comes down to. I felt good and I had some things I wanted to take care of.”
The first order of business was the 50-yard freestyle. Baldocchi touched in 21.27, breaking his own mark of 21.52 set May 6 in the preliminaries.
An hour later, he was back in the water, blowing down the 100-yard mark of 46.12 set by Joe Lileikas of El Camino Real in 1981. The new record: 45.83.
“I really wanted the 100 the most because I already had the 50,” he said. “Next year, I probably will swim something different and I wanted my name in the books. I really want to thank all the students from school who came down. I could hear them cheering me on.”
Baldocchi heard the cheers again in the night’s last event, the 400 freestyle relay. Trailing by nearly two body lengths when he hit the water on the anchor leg, he electrified the crowd of nearly 1,000 by sprinting the final 100 to edge Venice in a time of 3:19.16.
“If he keeps improving he can go anywhere he wants,” said El Camino swim Coach Corey Stanbury. “I think he has the ability to go to one of the top five schools in the country.
“If he can cut his times next year, I think that will happen.”
Palisades won its fourth straight title in the girls’ competition, but not without a fight from El Camino’s Kristin Underwood, who nearly duplicated Baldocchi’s effort.
The junior won the 200 freestyle, the 500 freestyle and came back to swim the anchor leg on the 400 freestyle relay, which established a City mark of 3:43.47, five seconds faster than the old record. Joining her on the team were Audrey Rossie, who also won the 100 backstroke, Maureen Farrell and Leann White, the winner of the 100 freestyle.
Other double winners were Birmingham’s Matthew Ballard, who won the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle, and Reseda’s Stephanie Hoisch, who won the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly, edging Cleveland’s Michelle Steinberger by .05.
“I had a big lead early and I kind of slacked off at the end,” said Hoisch, a junior. “But she really came on and I had to pick it up. I could see her the whole way and I knew it would be close. I was lucky I could give a little bit more at the end.”
Stanbury, for one, would like to see more competition.
“The schools are getting closer even though the Valley has won 28 in a row,” he said. “It’s good. The more good swimmers you have, the more it’s going to push the other kids to improve. . . . I think City swimming is going to be more competitive and consequently more exciting.”
For the moment, however, or at least as long as Baldocchi is around, it looks like business as usual.