La Cañada High's Katy Campbell had a great deal of nervous energy going into her first CIF Southern Section Division I Swim Finals, but it wasn't evident.
Campbell dominated in the girls' 500-yard freestyle a week earlier at the Rio Hondo League Finals, but knew the competition was going to stiffen in CIF. She rose to the occasion, however, and swam the event in 4 minutes, 43.04 seconds for the title Saturday at the Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach.
Campbell defeated the second-place finisher, University's Megan Rankin (4:45.37), by more than two seconds.
The victory gave the Spartans teams — both boys and girls — their only titles of the meet and the school's first Division I title after making the jump from Division II this season.
The boys finished fifth as a team with 128 points and the girls took 17th with 39 points.
Experiencing the Division I competition was definitely eye-opening for the Spartans girls and their Coach, Tiffany Quash.
"This has been phenomenal competition," Quash said. "The first day overall was very exciting and intense, and my girls were very nervous going in. But I think this was a great experience for them."
Campbell came in looking to gain more than just experience, though. The key to her success in the 500 was never getting cocky.
"I needed to swim scared," said Campbell, who also took third in the 200 freestyle (1:49.07). "Megan is a great swimmer, and she could have caught up to me at any time. I just had to keep going."
Rankin and Campbell were neck-and-neck for most of the 500, until the final 50 yards.
"That's when she started pulling away," Quash said. "The next thing you knew, Katy was at the wall. I honestly think that was the best race she's had all year."
Campbell's times in the 200 and 500 free qualified her for the CIF Masters Meet, which took place Tuesday at the William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine.
The only other member of the La Cañada girls' team to qualify for the finals of the meet was Sarah Olson in the 50 freestyle. She finished 14th overall (24.48).
Christian Renfro came close to winning a CIF title for the boys but ran out of gas, by his own admission, in the 200 freestyle. He jumped out to an early lead and maintained the advantage until the last 50 yards.
With Division I competition being as fierce as it is, Renfro's plan was to go out as fast as he could and see how long he could stay up with the leaders.
"I knew I was going to die at some point, it was just a matter of when," Renfro said.
"We knew [Renfro] was going to go out hard," La Cañada's boys' Coach Art Lopez said. "He said he was going to go out with the lead guy and hopefully hold on. He looked like he was going to do it until he got to that last turn."
Renfro was far from upset, as he set his personal-best time in the 200 with a time of 1:39.22, but it was good for just fourth place.
"I finally broke that 1:40 barrier and I'm excited to keep moving on — four more years," said Renfro, who will be swimming for Brown University next year.
Lopez said he couldn't ask for anything more from Renfro or the rest of his team.
"We didn't take first, but we had personal-best times all over the place, which is what it's all about," Lopez said. "If you swim your best time, I can't ask for anything more."
La Cañada's boys' 400 freestyle relay team of Renfro, Garrett Chin, Bo Mattix and Brandon Nguyen took fourth place (3:08.82). Chin (1:54.16) and Nguyen (1:54.28) took fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 200 individual medley and Mattix took seventh in the 100 backstroke (51.76).
Chin and Nguyen's times in the 200 individual medley qualified them for Masters. Chin and Nguyen also swam the 100 back and breaststroke, respectively, in the Masters competition.