RIVERSIDE — A special year for the Corona del Mar High girls' aquatics program ended Saturday night at Riverside City College.
Not with a whimper, but with a bang.
The last race of the year for the CdM girls came in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Ally McCormick, Ioanna Haralabidis, Brynne Wong and Stephania Haralabidis lowered their own school record, finishing in 3:26.16.
JSerra's girls set the national high school record in the event, a 3:21.20. But CdM's swim also was pretty special.
It was the seventh-fastest in Orange County history. Consider that when the year started, the CdM girls' school record in that event was more than five seconds slower, a 3:31.42.
So that last race was a special end to that special year, which also included the program's first CIF Southern Section Division 1 title in girls' water polo. In swimming, CdM finished with 232 points, settling for second place, as JSerra won Division 1 for the second straight year with 243 points.
It is CdM's highest CIF finish in girls' swimming since winning Division 2 titles in 2004 and '06.
"Especially coming in 13th last year, to move up 11 spots is a big deal for us," said McCormick, a senior headed to BYU for swimming. "It's a great way to leave. Obviously, it's tough leaving at the end, but when we finish on top in water polo and really close to the top in swimming, it's awesome."
The Sea Kings finished ahead of third-place Santa Margarita by eight points. They needed that fast swim at the end to hold off the Eagles. Coach Doug Volding explained the situation to the girls behind the blocks before the race.
"We motivated each other," Ioanna Haralabidis said. "We kept telling each other that we're really fast. Whatever we do, we just do the best we can. It's our last [race]. We just gave each other confidence before we got in the water."
Wong, headed to the University of Texas, certainly had confidence in her final high school meet. She finished second place in both of her individual events, the 50 freestyle and 100 butterfly, moving up from her third-place swims at preliminaries.
She lowered her school record in the 50 free to 22.94 seconds. Then she was second as well in the 100 fly, in 54.86.
"I was very happy with the 50 free," Wong said. "That got me going for the 100 fly. It was exciting. When I finished I couldn't see the board, because there was a glare."
Wong put her hands on her cheeks and opened her mouth in surprise.
"I took my goggles off, and if I remember correctly, my face went like that," she said. "I'm very happy with that."
It was Wong's third straight year finishing second place at CIF in the butterfly.
Stephanie Samudro also had a pair of nice swims. She was fourth in the fly, in 55.44, and then came back for third in the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.38.
CdM showed its depth by getting three girls into the 100 freestyle final. McCormick was sixth in 51.56, Stephania Haralabidis eighth in 51.75 and Ioanna Haralabidis ninth in 51.76.
The Sea Kings were also third in the 200 free relay. The USC-bound Haralabidis twins, Samudro and Wong lowered their school record time to 1:35.39.
Among other girls in championship finals, Ioanna Haralabidis was sixth in the 50 free in 23.82, and McCormick was ninth in the 200 free (1:51.81).
Newport Harbor's only swimmers in championship finals were in the girls' 200 freestyle relay, where Marissa Robertson, Carlee Kapana, Allyson Hall and Carly Christian finished ninth in 1:39.71.
That quartet swam a school-record 1:38.20 at Sunset League finals last week, breaking the previous mark from 2011 by more than a second.
"It was exciting, especially since Allyson Hall was in that relay," said Christian, bound for UC Santa Barbara for water polo. "She really wanted to break that record, and she definitely motivated us. It was a really good feeling … It's pretty cool to have our names up there [on the record board], hopefully for a little while."
Several of this year's CdM girls also have their names up on that record board. It's exciting to see for CdM assistant coach Stephanie Gabert, who also is well-represented on that board. She was a freshman and a junior, respectively, on the CdM teams that won CIF in 2004 and '06.
"This year was so fast," Gabert said. "I was just looking at this last relay. I think our school record was 3:31, and they broke it last year. This year, they dropped like five more seconds. This year and last year have just been super-fast, way faster than when I was swimming. These kids can only get so much faster … it's just so dang fast. It's amazing what talent these kids have."
They showed it this year, both in water polo and swimming.