MISSION VIEJO — Corona del Mar High senior Brynne Wong has heard the snickering at times in the early part of the season.
Two weeks ago, the Capistrano Valley relays were the first swim meet of the year. CdM showed up with its Greek twins, Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis, who are bound for USC for water polo.
What some opponents were shocked to see was that the Haralabidis sisters do not wear goggles while they swim.
"Then we won the heat, and everyone kind of shut up," Wong said. "It was nice."
Wong again heard some comments Saturday night back at Capistrano Valley High, but it was easy for her to brush them off. Even without goggles, the Haralabidis sisters teamed with Wong and Ally McCormick to nearly break the school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay in the finals of the Millikan Southern Section Relays. They finished third in 3 minutes, 32.11 seconds, less than a second off the school record of 3:31.42.
"This year, the best part is that no one really expects it," said Wong, bound for the University of Texas. " When we show up with the Greeks, and they're not wearing goggles, it throws everybody off. It's so great. Before the 400 free relay, Rebecca [Millard] from JSerra goes, 'Do you guys not wear goggles?' It's kind of funny to see everyone's reaction to them. I like that we have a little bit of sneak attack [this year]."
CdM had disappointment to start Saturday's meet, as the Sea Kings were disqualified in the 4x100 individual medley. But they rebounded with some strong swims to finish in sixth place, with 123 points.
Newport Harbor Coach Brian Melstrom said his team achieved its goal of a top 10 finish. The Sailors also had some fast swims, and finished 10th with 99 points.
Santa Margarita won the meet, edging out second-place Foothill. Defending champion University would have been co-titlists with Santa Margarita, but the Trojans disqualified in the meet-ending 4x50 medley relay and had to settle for fourth place.
CdM Coach Doug Volding saw his team bounce back after its own disqualification in the individual medley.
"There's some great talent in this meet," Volding said. "What I take away from this meet is that we started out with a disappointment. But instead of [thinking] just, 'We're out of it,' they did some great times."
CdM nearly won the 4x50 butterfly, placing second in 1:45.08. Wong was out-touched on the anchor leg by her friend, Katie McLaughlin of JSerra. McLaughlin, last year's 100 fly winner at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 finals (Wong was second), helped JSerra finish in 1:44.91.
That time broke CdM's meet record in the event, set in 2011 by Wong, her older sister Natalie, Pippa Saunders and Hollace Barden.
"I'm not going to lie, it was kind of hard," Wong said. "I couldn't have given any more, and [McLaughlin] has always been so good at closing relays. I'm happy. I'm pretty sure if it wasn't a best, it was pretty close to my best for a 50 fly time. It's kind of tough to see that record go ... but I'm happy for them. If it was any team, I'm glad it was them."
Among other CdM teams in the championship finals, freshman Maddie Sanders, junior Stephanie Samudro, Wong and Ioanna Haralabidis finished second in the 4x50 medley relay (1:51.99). McCormick and freshmen Bridgett Storm, Nicole Larson and Sanders took eighth in the 4x50 backstroke (2:01.57).
Newport Harbor's best finish came in the 4x50 breaststroke relay. Casey Duckworth, Carlee Kapana, Morganne Goodson and Marissa Robertson were fourth in 2:11.82.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this story misspelled Morganne Goodson's name.
"Breaststroke is one of those strokes where you may have one good [swimmer]," Melstrom said. "If you can get four good ones, that's rare. We've got some quality breaststrokers.
"Overall, the girls swam their butts off Thursday [in preliminaries] to get here. We had some personal-bests, but other teams did better and knocked us down a couple of spots. We don't have the race suits, we don't have alternates moving into different spots. A lot of teams have these alternates, they just qualify and then they bring the big guns in for the finals. We don't have the luxury of doing that, but overall it was all right. I'm pretty happy with how things are going ... We have no standout Division 1 swimmers, just a couple of club swimmers and some water polo players who don't like to lose."
Newport Harbor has had a strong start to its girls' swim season after upsetting Edison on Tuesday in its Sunset League opener. And Melstrom said this is the first time in his tenure that all seven of his Millikan relay teams qualified for either the championship or consolation finals.
The Sailors' 4x50 medley relay team of Robertson, Kapana, Ellie Reid and Carly Christian was fifth in 1:53.88. Newport's 6x50 freestyle relay team of Robertson, Kapana, Allyson Hall, Reid, Duckworth and Christian was seventh in 2:33:34.
The Sea Kings and Sailors don't meet in the Battle of the Bay until April 25 at Newport Harbor. With each girls' team having a strong start to the season, that could be a fun meet.
Maybe the Haralabidis sisters will even be wearing goggles by then.
"They don't like them," Wong said. "I'm trying to get them to eventually get there by CIF, but whatever they're more comfortable with. Whatever makes them go faster."