WALNUT — Second place isn’t always a reason to celebrate, but the Laguna Beach High girls’ swim team was all smiles Saturday at the CIF Southern Section Division III swim finals.
When second place equates to the best finish the Breakers have ever had at CIF, it was easy to understand why. Laguna Beach, which had finished as high as 10th in Division II in recent years, totaled 195 points, second to only Palm Desert (253).
The Laguna Beach boys finished 14th. There was plenty to celebrate at Mt. San Antonio College, including a record-setting swim in the girls’ 200-yard freestyle relay by seniors Annika Dries (headed to Stanford), Chelsea Wild (USC), Taylor Dodson (Cal) and Andrea Reigel (UCLA). They finished in 1 minute, 38.37 seconds, easily topping the former Division III mark of 1:39.45 set by La Serna two years ago.
“They wanted to beat that record and they smashed it,” Coach Kari Johnson said. “That’s so huge for Laguna. This aquatics season has been amazing. A CIF record in the relay, and second place in CIF. At the start of the year, I never imagined we would get second in CIF.”
The 400 free relay featuring the same four standouts was second to Palm Desert, in 3:34.55. The time was faster than any other in Division III before this year, but Palm Desert set the new record in the same race.
Reigel also had a pair of second-place swims for the back-to-back Orange Coast League champs in her individual events, the 200 individual medley (2:05.73) and 100 free (51.89 seconds). Both times represented a significant drop from prelims.
“I wanted to go faster,” Reigel said. “Those weren’t my best times, but I was really happy overall because I dropped time from prelims, which was all I really wanted to do.”
Wild was also second in the 500 free, breaking her own school record by swimming a personal-best 4:52.70. She did the same in the 200 free, where she placed third in 1:51.50.
“I knew I was going to be pretty fast,” Wild said. “I just had it today. I felt great.”
Dries was fourth in the 100 free (53.06) and fifth in the 200 free, in 1:55.80.
“It was close to my prelims time and at the end of the day, it was a good swim,” Dries said of her 200 free race. “I’m really proud of Chelsea. She went a personal-best today and we pumped each other up. That was really fun.
“It’s just been a really nice end to my four years at Laguna,” she added. “Everything kind of led up to the ending moment. It would have been great even if we were still in Division II swimming fast, but to go out and be able to be a runner-up and have that honor, and hopefully set a goal for the girls in the future? That was great. It’s a perfect ending.”
Laguna Beach also received 16 points thanks to the dives of junior Lena Kardos, who had previously placed third in Division III diving.
On the boys’ side Saturday, the only Breakers swimmer in the championship finals was UCLA-bound senior Preston Head. He was fourth in the 50 free (21.85) and seventh in the 100 in 47.88. Head had broken his own 50 free school record in prelims (21.70).
“He wanted to go a 46 in the 100 free,” Johnson said. “[But] at the prelims he broke his own record again, so you can’t be disappointed.”
Reigel went on to finish sixth in the 100 free at Tuesday’s CIF Southern Section Masters Meet, which combines swimmers from all divisions. Reigel finished just over her time at the Division III finals, touching in 52.02. Head finished 20th and 22nd, respectively, at Masters in the 100 free (47.99) and 50 free (22.06).