About a half mile separates the pools for the Newport Hills and Harbor View youth swim teams. So maybe it only makes sense that the Killer Whales and Dolphins would battle in a close finish at the South Coast Swim Conference Championships Saturday.
In the end, the Newport Hills Killer Whales were celebrating in the Corona del Mar High pool with a remarkable and momentous victory. Newport Hills won the overall team title in the six-team SCSC after scoring 1,668 points, 28.5 more than second-place Harbor View.
For the first time in its history, Newport Hills won its second straight SCSC championship.
"It was a very close meet," said Newport Hills Coach Michelle Sperling, who's been with the program for seven years. "I wasn't sure if we were able to pull it out. I was very happy.
"Everybody was very thrilled. It's always nice when you have good competition. We are two teams that live in the same neighborhood basically, just a green belt away. We are all friends. The kids were really excited that they won. This is the team that has always been competitive with us. It's because of them we were able to rise to the occasion and swim better than expected."
Harbor View held the lead in the team overall score early on. The Dolphins won four age-group titles (6-and-under boys, 7-8 boys, 9-10 boys, 11-12 boys).
The Killer Whales also won four age-group titles (6-and-under girls, 7-8 girls, 9-10 girls, 13-14 boys).
"My swimmers swam great," said Harbor View Coach Ted Bandaruk, who completed his 44th year as a youth swim coach. "We were leading the first half. It was very exciting. Newport Hills had beaten us the past few years. To be up front was very exciting for us. We didn't have enough swimmers to fill at the end. So many kids had personal bests. It was good. I couldn't be prouder."
Sperling and her coaching staff were also proud of their swimmers after the season-ending meet. She said she feels honored to be a part of the program that's had four straight undefeated regular seasons and the unprecedented two consecutive titles.
"Next year we are looking for a three-peat, hopefully," Sperling said. "[The Killer Whales] deserved the win because they worked so hard. They definitely earned it."
Sperling also took pride in the total team effort. She said about 90% of her swimmers completed personal-best times in at least one event. Every Newport Hills swimmer contributed points.
With a closer look into the victory, Sperling pointed out that the 13-14 boys were dominant, as they won with 182 points, 73 more than second-place Lake Forest.
Taylor Cortens of Newport Hills won the 11-12 boys' 50-yard backstroke in 30 seconds to break the SCSC record. He also won the 50 butterfly in 28.58.
Lauren Openshaw of Newport Hills broke the SCSC record in the 9-10 girls' 50 breaststroke, as she won in 35.19.
The Harbor View quartet of Connor Mickelsen, Robert Naruse, Cole Fredrick and Ford Secrist broke the SCSC record in the 11-12 boys' 4x50 medley relay, winning in 2 minutes, 3.92 seconds.
Newport Hills' Hollace Barden broke team records with second-place finishes in the 15-18 girls' 100 freestyle in 54.23 and the 100 individual medley in 1:03.43.
Briana Daboub broke team records in two events for the Killer Whales, finishing second in the 13-14 girls' 100 free (57.57) and the 50 back (30.40).
The Newport Hills 7-8 girls 4x25 medley relay team of Anna Wilde, Gianna Danese, Sophie Wallace and Caroline Garell broke the team record after winning in 1:12.82.
Harbor View's Eliza Britt broke a team record in the 11-12 girls' 100 IM (1:09.68) and she won the 50 free.
Newport Hills winners also included:
Eleanor Facey, Emily Valentine, Bianca Bays and Kate Madigan in the 6-and-under girls' 4x25 medley relay (1:33.46).
Madison Srasmann, Openshaw, Chloe Harbilas and Erika Anderson in the 9-10 girls' 4x25 medley relay (1:04.66).
Kyle Cousens, Danny Robertson, Brett Greenlee and Ian Givant in the 13-14 boys' 4x50 medley relay (1:55.90).
Bays in the 25 free (18.61).
Givant in the 100 free (54.05) and the 25 butterfly (20.39).
Openshaw in the 50 breaststroke (35.19).
Morgan Cortens in the 9-10 boys' 50 breaststroke (39.79) and 100 IM (1:15.70).
Ryan McManigal in the 6-and-under boys' 25 butterfly (21.16).
Jake Bays in the 7-8 boys' 25 fly (15.51) and 50 free (32.41).
Brett Greenlee in the 13-14 boys' 50 fly (27.61).
Natalie Wilde in the 11-12 girls' 50 back (32.88).
Spencer Carroll in the 13-14 boys' 50 back (30.73).
Anna Wilde in the 7-8 girls' 50 free (34.40).
Mickelsen in the 100 IM (1:06.71).
Greenlee, Alex Wilde, Carroll and Cousens in the 4x50 free relay (1:44.78).
Harbor View's winners included:
Colton Quick, Locke Darmer, Cooper Esnard and Josh Anderson in the 6-and-under boys' 4x25 medley relay (1:29.80).
Connor Cohen, Mark Redman, Carter Duss and Nicolas Ayala in the 7-8 boys' 4x25 medley relay (1:16.28).
Mikey Ruiz, Luke Chelf, Alexander Taxman and Mitchell Cooper in the 9-10 boys' 4x25 medley relay (1:04.53).
Delaney Pouch, Pippa Saunders, Alex Dickens and Tori Gabert in the 15-18 girls' 4x50 medley relay (1:59.68).
Josh Anderson in the 6-and-under boys' 25 free (18.29).
Jennifer Alvarado in the 7-8 girls' 25 free (14.95), the 25 fly (16.83) and the 25 back (18.54).
Ruiz in the 9-10 boys' 50 free (30.34) and 50 back (35.45).
Ford Secrist in the 11-12 boys' 50 free (26.63).
Jules Pouch in the 13-14 girls' 100 free (57.53).
Matt Berry in the 15-18 boys' 100 free (48.41).
Darmer in the 25 breaststroke (26.99).
Redman in the 25 breaststroke (20.01).
Robert Naruse in the 11-12 boys' 50 breaststroke (33.85).
Saunders in the 50 breaststroke (32.68) and 100 IM (1:03.42).
Taxman in the boys 25 fly (16.04).
Madalyn Ruiz in the 11-12 girls' 50 fly (30.61).
Kate Watson in the 6-and-under 25 back (24.81).
Colton Quick in the 6-and-under 25 back (22.07).
Quick, Darmer, Cooper Esnard and Josh Anderson in the 4x25 free (1:21.13).
Carter Duss, Harrison Smith, Jaden Schank and Redman in the 4x25 free relay (1:07.35).
J.T. Murphy, Jack Klingler, Cameron Schank and Mitchell Cooper in the 9-10 boys' 4x50 free relay (2:14.82).
Garrett Godber, Robert Naruse, Joseph Anderson and Ford Secrist in the 11-12 boys' 4x50 free relay (1:56.38).