Brandon Nguyen leads La Cañada swimming at league finals

PASADENA — Brandon Nguyen said he wanted to go out with a boom in his final high school season.

For the La Cañada High boys' swimmer, it meant breaking three — two individual — Rio Hondo League records, including the oldest one left at the league finals Friday at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.

PHOTOS: Rio Hondo League swim championships

Nguyen broke the 100-yard breaststroke record, which at 57.50 seconds had stood since 1992. The senior brought it down with a time of 56.69.

"That definitely has been on my eye for the past two years," said Nguyen, who was quite happy with his good bye to Rio Hondo. "It's definitely a boom, that's all I have to say. I'm very happy with this — a 56.69 is the best I've ever gone. I'm very happy and now I am going to get ready for CIF."

Nguyen also bested the record he set last year in the 200 individual medley with a swim of 1:51.51, holding off several challengers and pulling away in the breaststroke.

"The breaststroke is definitely my favorite stroke," Nguyen said. "Lately, I've been training a lot of IM, that's been my main focus this year."

The Spartans' 200-medley relay team of Garrett Chin, Nguyen, Symeon Stefan and Peter Loakes also set the first league record of the day in 1:35.70, an automatic CIF qualifying time.

Nguyen, Loakes, Dane Bell and Chin also won the 400-free relay in an automatic 3:13.83.

While Loakes didn't set any records, he dominated the freestyle events for La Cañada.

The Spartans swept the top three spots in the 50 free with Loakes winning it in 21.63 and Stefan (23.26) and Jeff Lee (23.28) rounding out the top three.

The junior had a much greater challenge and provided one of the day's best finishes when he edged San Marino's Daniel To (47.70), who'd defeated him in the event in duals, in 47.20.

"We're kind of friends, so I knew it was going to be a close race, so I was happy I won," Loakes said of To. "It feels amazing, I really thought I was going to die on that last lap, but I stuck through it and finally finished."

Dane Bell took first in the 200 (1:46.32) and 500 freestyles (4:39.86). The Spartans' Matt Varraveto took second in the 500 (4:41.27).

Garrett Chin logged automatic times and runner-up finishes in the individual medley (1:52.92) and 100 backstroke (51.55), where he was just edged by To (51.47).

On the girls' side, the Spartans had their best performance in the 100 backstroke. La Cañada swept the top three spots, with Samantha Campbell winning her second title in the event after a one-year hiatus in 1:01.57. Rachel Wong and Shelby Hopkins went second and third in 1:03.78 and 1:04.16, respectively.

"I think this is the first year we've had three championship finalists that have gone 1-2-3," Campbell said. "Winning the title is really nice, but the best part was representing my school with Shelby and Rachel Wong, which is such a treat."

That trio teamed with Sarah Hughes to finish runner-up in the 200-medley relay (1:57.43).

Wong held a slight lead early in the 200 individual medley, but saw South Pas' Sabrina Zavala (2:11.96) take a body-length lead by the end of the breaststroke, en route to a runner-up finish (2:15.50).

Campbell also took second in the 50 free (25.14).

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