Despite losing its fastest swimmer, Amalie Fackenthal, ’18, last year, the girls team made Country Day history with back-to-back titles in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Championships on May 2-4 at Tokay High School in Lodi. It was the school’s second girls section title, both of which are in swimming. 

The girls team consisted of junior Rebecca Waterson, sophomores Athena Lin and Sydney Turner and freshman Hailey Fesai. This was Waterson’s third time competing at Sections, Lin and Turner’s second and Fesai’s first.

Waterson won the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 54.25 seconds and placed sixth in the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.95. 

Turner finished fourth in the 200 individual medley and sixth in the 100 butterfly. 

The quartet placed fourth in the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays. 

Despite Country Day’s section title, Turner said she considers this a “growth” year. 

“Losing Amalie from last year was a major downfall,” Turner said. “But we actually did a pretty good job holding our ground.” 

Waterson and senior Joe Zales qualified for the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Swimming and Diving Championships on May 10-11 at Clovis West High School in the Fresno area.

Waterson placed seventh in the 100 butterfly in 54.47 seconds and ninth in the 100 backstroke in 55.83 seconds.

Zales was unable to reach the final in either of his events, the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, partially due to a head cold, he said. Zales added that his training for an upcoming meet in Vancouver, British Columbia, also could have been a factor. 

Zales said he was still happy about his results and proud to represent Country Day at States. 

Waterson also said she didn’t have the smoothest experience. 

“I was really nauseous after my 100 fly, and I missed 10 days of practice two weeks before for college recruit trips, which is a lot,” Waterson said.

Even so, Waterson said she was happy about qualifying for the finals.

Turner enjoyed her experience. 

“Sections is cool because I get to compete against people that I’m on the same team as during competitive swimming,” Turner said. “We wear the same cap at practice but not at Sections.”

Coach Brian Nabeta also said Sections were his favorite part of the season. 

“The meet culminates all the training that the kids did in the prior weeks to get to this climactic point of the season,” Nabeta said. 

And though the season ended with a section championship and a swimmer in two state finals, Nabeta said it had its challenges. 

“The hardest part was making sure the swimmers got in the number of swims they needed in the preliminary meets prior to Sections,” Nabeta said. “Some kids had other obligations, and others had school conflicts. I always hope for the best.”

However, because none of the girls on the relay team are graduating, Nabeta said he is optimistic about next year. 

“I am looking forward to a possible three-peat as Sac Joaquin Division III girls swimming champions,” Nabeta said. 

—By Jackson Margolis

Originally published in the May 28 edition of the Octagon.

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