The Palm Springs Invitational took on a different meaning for the La Cañada High boys' and girls' swim teams this year.
Before being moved up to CIF Southern Section Division I this season, the Spartans used the tournament to learn how they stacked up against the schools in the top division in Southern California.
"Now we're one of those schools. This is our competition now," said Spartan girls' Coach Tiffany Quash about the 16th annual meet, held Saturday at the Palm Springs Swim Complex.
The goal was to place among the top four in the tournament, said La Cañada boys' Coach Art Lopez. His team did him one better, though, placing third with 185 points, behind Murrieta Valley and Dana Hills.
Garrett Chin won the 200-yard individual medley for the Spartans, taking the event in 1:57.46, and took second in the 100 backstroke (54.59).
Chin, Christian Renfro, Brandon Nguyen and Shane Chung also took first in the 400 freestyle relay for the Spartans. (3:14.68). Nguyen, Chin, Bo Mattix and Matt Myers led the Spartans to a third-place finish in the 200 medley relay (1:42.52) and La Cañada's 200 freestyle relay group of Myers, Mattix, Chung and Renfro also came in third (1:29.37).
Nguyen took second in the 100 breaststroke (59.31) and third in the 200 freestyle (1:45.15) in the prestigious tournament. Renfro placed third in the 50 freestyle (22.29) and fifth in the 100 butterfly (54.59) and Mattix's 100 butterfly time (53.65) was good for fourth place.
Renfro said it's always important to stay focused in a competitive meet like the Palm Springs Invitational.
"The people around you are going to try and push you, but you have to swim your race — the way you've been doing it all year," Renfro said.
The Spartan girls' team rounded out the top 10 in Palm Springs, taking 10th place (43 points). Sarah Olson finished second in the 50 freestyle (24.99) and seventh in the 100 butterfly (1:02.31) and Rita Neat placed fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.93).
The Palm Springs Invitational helps prepare La Cañada for the final stretch of the season, Lopez said.
"We're starting to ramp up and get ready for CIF — next week will be the test," said Lopez, referring to the team's meet against San Marino, its biggest rival, at home at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
La Cañada will compete in the Rio Hondo League Tournament at 3 p.m. on May 4 and 6 at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.