At the start of the season, Los Alamitos High School girls’ swim Coach Debbie Flemming thought her team was good enough to repeat as 3-A champions.
She was right.
The Griffins made fast work of the competition Saturday in the finals at Belmont Plaza pool. By the time the first individual event was over, there was little doubt who was in charge.
Los Alamitos not only had the winner in the 200-yard freestyle, it had the third- and fourth-place finishers as well.
Stacy St. Martin won the event with a time of 1 minute 51.27 seconds. Marci Herron was third (1:54.78) and Kim Rubino fourth (1:56.12).
Only Natalie Norberg of San Marino kept it from being a clean sweep, finishing second (1:52.24).
With that kind of depth, the Griffins were unstoppable. They finished with 195 points, well ahead of second-place El Dorado, which had 104.
“We looked really strong in the preliminaries, so I didn’t think anyone would challenge us,” Flemming said. “And everybody, I mean everybody, swam their best times in the finals.”
Los Alamitos has always had a strong girls’ swim team. The Griffins have won six consecutive Empire League championships.
But, until last season, they had never won a Southern Section title.
“It was getting old just winning league championships,” Flemming said. “Our goal last season was to win the Southern Section title. We did, and we made our goal to repeat this year. I felt with the talent we had coming back, we should win it again.”
The Griffins lost only one swimmer from last year’s team. They qualified 12 swimmers for the finals as well as two relay teams.
And, as Flemming said, everyone was at their best.
Besides St. Martin’s victory in the 200 freestyle, the Griffins received a first-place finish from Marci Herron.
Herron won the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.11. Rubino was fifth in that event.
Los Alamitos also won the 400 freestyle relay with time of 3:35.40. It was eight seconds faster than San Marino, which finished second in the event.
The Griffins also received a strong performance from Nicole Williamson, who finished second in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle.
Second was no disgrace as both those events were won by three-time Olympic gold-medalist Janet Evans.
Evans set a national high school record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:59.96. She also just missed the record in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:38.34.
Despite being used to international competition, Evans, a senior, has found plenty of motivation on the high school level.
“My coach has found ways to get me motivated,” said Evans, who will attend Stanford next year. “Stuff like setting goals for times and trying to lap the other swimmers. It’s helped me get ready for these meets.”
Williamson swam strong times in both events. She went 2:05.54 in the 200 individual medley and 4:53.60 in the 500 freestyle.
“I was really happy for Nicole and Janet,” Flemming said. “They have been very good friends for a long time. Nicole will be back next year, so it will be hers to win.”
San Marino won the boys’ meet for the second consecutive year. The Titans finished with 179 points. Damien was second with 132 and Santa Monica third with 98.
Servite was the top Orange County team at the meet. The Friars scored 55 points, good enough for 10th place.
In the girls’ competition, Deborah Kory of Rolling Hills broke the 3-A record in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:05.87. The previous mark was 1:06.23, set by Shannon Breese of Thousand Oaks in 1984.
With Evans swimming the opening leg, El Dorado’s 200 medley relay team finished first with a time of 1:53.13.
But the night, again, belonged to Los Alamitos.
“Hey we have everyone returning next year,” Flemming said. “This could be a dynasty.”