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Splashy Year for Parmenter

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

How good is Jennifer Parmenter of L.A. Baptist High? So good even Olympic gold medal winners are ducking her.

At the Southern Section Division I finals last month, Amanda Beard of Irvine didn’t swim in one of her best events--the 200-yard individual medley--because of Parmenter’s presence.

“There was no way Amanda could beat Jennifer,” Irvine Coach Scott Hinman told a reporter from The Times.

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A year after narrowly missing a spot on the Olympic team, Parmenter kept showing why she’s one of the best swimmers in the nation. She won three titles at the U.S. National Championships in Buffalo in February and competed in the Short Course World Championships in Sweden in April.

Although L.A. Baptist doesn’t field a swim team, Parmenter competed in several Mission League meets so she could qualify for the section finals.

In the Division I championships at Long Beach last month, she won the 500 freestyle and broke her own record in the 200 individual medley, coming within a second of Kristine Quance’s national record.

For her accomplishments, the 16-year-old sophomore from Granada Hills is The Times’ regional performer of the year in swimming and diving.

Unshaved and untapered, Parmenter dominated the 200 individual medley. Her time of 2:00.41 was more than 4 1/2 seconds faster than second-place Liah Kim of Buena, and Kim finished in an All-American time.

After winning in one of her specialties--the 100 backstroke--her freshman year, Parmenter switched to the 500 freestyle for her other individual event.

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“I was training for distance anyway so it wasn’t that hard to switch,” she said.

Her time of 4:51.42 beat Redlands’ Vicki West by more than a second.

The high school season was a minor workout compared to her goals this summer.

At the U.S. National Championships in Nashville later this summer, Parmenter will compete in at least six events to try to qualify for the Pan Pacific games in Australia in January.

The next two years will bring more chances to break Quance’s national record, although Parmenter may be doing it for a different school.

Parmenter has applied to attend Granada Hills--which Quance attended--under open enrollment. She will take the rest of the summer to decide whether to transfer. The Highlanders have won the past three City Section girls’ titles.

Parmenter says the possible transfer has little to do with swimming.

“I’d like the opportunity to go to a bigger school,” Parmenter said. “I’d like to be able to do stuff like go to a prom. [L.A. Baptist] doesn’t have one. I want to enjoy all the stuff that a big school has to offer.”

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

FIRST TEAM

Heather Boylan

Saugus, Jr.

200 freestyle: Won two individual Southern Section Division II titles for the second consecutive season. Boylan showed versatility by switching from 100 backstroke to 500 freestyle.

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Becky Skyler

Hart, Sr.

50 freestyle: Fought off effects of mononucleosis to win her first Division II individual title in the 50 after two second-place finishes in 1995. Signed with Oregon State.

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Alexis Sowa

Thousand Oaks, Jr.

Diving: Top female diver in the area the past two seasons, Sowa finished fourth in the Division I finals and won the Marmonte League title.

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Liah Kim

Buena, Sr.

100 butterfly: Kim, who will swim at USC next year, helped Bulldogs to third place by finishing second in 200 individual medley and second in 100 butterfly in Division I.

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Sabra Martini

El Camino Real, Sr.

100 freestyle: One of best City Section swimmers the past two seasons, Martini, who is headed for UC Irvine, won the 50 and 100 at finals the past two years.

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Nicole Beck

Buena, Jr.

100 backstroke: Placed fourth in 100 butterfly and third in 100 backstroke in Division I finals. Competed in U.S. Senior Nationals the past three years.

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Monica Oleksyn

Hart, Sr.

100 breaststroke: Won her third Division II title in four years and helped Indians to Foothill League title. Has committed to Loyola Marymount.

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