RIVERSIDE - Katy Campbell wasn’t about to let her three-year reign in the 500-yard freestyle end, even if she spent much of the race chasing her own crown.
The La Cañada High senior wouldn’t be denied and provided the most stirring local highlight of the CIF Southern Section Division I Swimming and Diving Championships at Riverside Aquatic Center on Saturday night by literally chasing down the title with a furious late rally.
With the feat, Campbell became only the fifth swimmer in Southern Section history to win the 500 freestyle four years in a row.
“I’ve been nervous all day actually, I tried not to let it get to me, but I’m just a nervous kind of swimmer,” said Campbell who won the race in 4 minutes 42.83 seconds, the fourth-fastest mark in the nation this year. “I knew I wanted to win it, I knew that’s how I wanted to end my senior year, how I wanted to end my high school swimming winning all four years in a row. I was nervous, but I knew what I had to do and I knew I had to be confident stepping up into the block.”
Having never held a lead in the race, Campbell looked to be locked into second behind Woodbridge’s Daniela Georges, and even in danger of being overtaken by Megan Rankin of University, as the race neared its last four turns.
But Campbell turned to a surprising new gear of speed down the stretch, closing the gap and taking the lead entering the final lap. In the end, she beat Georges by 1.17.
“Me and my coach have been working on my back half all season, it just kind of seemed like the next thing to do,” said Campbell, who also placed third in the 200 freestyle in 1:48.69 to help the Spartans take 20thplace with 73 points. “All those girls are such amazing competitors, I knew that if I wanted to win, I would just have to go for it right there, so I did.”
La Canada’s boys’ team enjoyed a strong sixth-place finish with 178 points, led by Bradley Mattix and Brandon Nguyen.
Nguyen was fourth in the 200-individual medley in 1:51.40 and 11th in the 100 breaststroke and Mattix took eighth in the 100 butterfly in 51.64, but came back to take third in the 100 backstroke in a school-record 50.03.
“I’m really happy with how I did,” Mattix said. “I’m excited that I broke my school record. I’m not tapered, I’m not shaved, so I’m really happy with how I did. It’s a really good confidence booster going into trying to make [Olympic] trials.”
Both Mattix and Nguyen teamed with Garrett Chin and Peter Loakes to take fourth in the 200-medley relay in 1:34.27 and Mattix, Loakes, Chin and Nguyen took ninth in the 400-freestyle relay in 3:12.78.
Loakes, Brad Cavanagh, Shane Bell and Symeon Stefan took 20thin the 200-freestyle relay in 1:29.75.
While Campbell put the finishing touches on a masterful high school career, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy freshman Kirsten Vose continued to impress in her debut campaign by finishing runner-up the Division I 100 breaststroke in a personal-best 1:03.53.
Her efforts led the Tologs to a 14th-place finish with 105 points.
“I was just trying to go fast,” said Vose, who trailed coming out of the last turn, but was able to mount a push to finish just .75 seconds behind University’s Maggie Burton. “I was just trying to get under 1:04. I was going to try my best [to catch Burton], but I didn’t really think [I could]. I was just trying to focus on my own race.”
Sacred Heart got its meet off to a smashing start, casting off its No. 6 seeding to finish second in the 200-medley relay in 1:48.03 thanks in large part to a surge in the breaststroke from Vose - her 29.25 split was the fastest in the race -- and a strong finish from freestyler Emily Balog.
“When Emily touched the wall, we all thought we got like sixth or something,” Vose said.
Altmayer, Balog, Ryan and Vose took ninth in the 200-freestyle relay in 1:39.40.
Altmayer finished 14thin the 100 butterfly in 57.72.
Also contributing points for the Spartans girls were Sarah Olson in the 50 freestyle (14th, 24.26) and 100 freestyle (16th, 53.11), Samantha Campbell in the 100 backstroke (14th, 59.02) and the team of Olson, Rachel Wong, Samantha Campbell and Katy Campbell in the 400-freestyle relay (16th, 3:35.69.
Flintridge Prep freshman diver Madi Witt finished runner-up with a score of 538.80 in the Division II finals meet which was held Saturday morning at the same venue.
Witt led for most of the competition, including a four-point lead heading into the final round and 69-point after her final dive, but was upstaged by Pasadena Poly junior Annika Lenz, who finished with 545.25 points to claim her third straight title.
"I'm really proud of Anni, I know how hard she works, I worked really hard, too," Witt said. "I'm glad with the outcome, she deserved it.
"I gave it my all and gave all I could do."
Prep freshman Kyla Bradley finished seventh with a score of 398.80.