The Surf League swimming finals may have lacked suspense on Friday at Golden West College, but fast times were certainly on the agenda.
Newport Harbor High senior Ayla Spitz and Fountain Valley sophomore Ivan Nghi hope that a strong league finals is a precursor to a strong CIF Southern Section Division 1 meet, which takes place Thursday (preliminaries) and May 4 (finals) at Riverside City College.
Spitz was the girls’ Swimmer of the Meet for the Surf League, while Nghi shared the boys’ honor with Sullivan Moore of Los Alamitos.
Los Alamitos, last year’s Sunset League champion in girls’ and boys’ swimming, was easily able to defend its titles in the new league configuration. Fountain Valley placed second on the girls’ side, while Newport Harbor was second in boys’ swimming.
Spitz and her twin sister, Zoe, are nearing the end of their sparkling prep careers before they head to Cal and Rice University, respectively. Ayla’s only competition at league finals was ultimately herself.
She broke her own meet records in winning the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute 45.02 seconds) and the 100 free (48.63), breaking her own school records in both events as well. Additionally, Spitz’s 22.60 split leading off the 200 free relay was another school record. Ayla, senior Kili Skibby, freshman Taylor Smith and Zoe touched in a first-place time of 1:36.23.
“I’m happy with how it all went,” Ayla Spitz said. “I’m excited I got to lead off the 4x50. I mean, we haven’t done it at league in a little while. We did it freshman year, I think, so it was nice to get back to that. I’m happy about the way I’m ending my high school finals career. It’s a nice way to end it.”
The same quartet also won the girls’ 400 free relay, in 3:28.47. And Zoe Spitz also was an individual winner, taking the 50 free in 23.59.
“The 50 is really fun,” she said. “You just get up and give it your all for that 50. You leave it all in the pool, and I’m happy with that result.”
Fountain Valley senior Hannah Farrow defended her league titles in the 100 butterfly (54.38) and 200 individual medley (2:01.60). Farrow, bound for the University of Arizona, said she aims to go under two minutes in the individual medley at CIF. The Barons’ school record is a 2:00.28 by Shelby Webber in 2011.
Farrow, who was on the winning 200 medley relay team with teammates Emme Nguyen, Katelyn Dang and Sarah Hopkins (1:45.78), got decent competition in the IM by second-place finisher Michelle Tekawy of Corona del Mar. Tekawy, a sophomore, also placed second in the breaststroke.
“I don’t know her, but I’ve heard the name and I know she’s fast,” Farrow said. “To have that competition, it’s fun. That’s what makes the sport fun. Having to push yourself to your limit just to get that first place, it’s a lot of fun.”
On the boys’ side, Nghi also set meet records in his individual events, winning the IM in 1:48.99 and the butterfly in 52.94. He said he did better than expected in the IM.
“I’ve been training so hard and I felt good,” Nghi said. “The goal was to do well, hoping to get under 1:50, and I exceeded that. That was a surprise for me. I think my teammates really helped me with that. They pushed me through. Midway, I hear all of the cheering.”
Nghi hopes to contend at CIF. Last year as a freshman, he was the Division 1 consolation champion in the breaststroke.
Nghi’s older brother, Brandon, a senior, won the butterfly in 52.94. Newport Harbor senior Jack White captured the 500 free in 4:47.37.
CdM junior Tanner Pulice was the Sea Kings’ only individual winner in either gender, taking the boys’ 100 backstroke in 52.42. Pulice also swam anchor on CdM’s 200 medley relay team, which also included Akira Morita, Robert Genc and Carter Park and touched first in a season-best 1:36.75.
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