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Girls’ relay swimming team makes history, qualifies for section championship finals

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(Photo used by permission of Ayako Fackenthal)
Sophomores Emily Hayes and Heidi Johnson, coach Brian Nabeta, junior Amalie Fackenthal and freshman Rebecca Waterson take a picture after their races.

The Sac-Joaquin Section Championships were filled with Country Day firsts: the first SCDS girls’ relay team to make the section championship finals and also junior Amalie Fackenthal’s first places in both her events.

This is the third consecutive year Fackenthal has held varsity section championship titles.

Nabeta said Fackenthal’s times were impressive.

“It was a very good swim considering that her focus is on the (Phillips 66 National Championships and World Championship Trials June 27-July 1),” Nabeta said.

The Sac-Joaquin Section Championships were on May 11-13 at Tokay High School in Lodi. Girls swam the first day, boys swam the second and the third day was reserved for finals.

The top eight swimmers for each event raced in the A finals, while the rest of the top 16 participated in the consolation (B) finals.

The girls’ relay team, consisting of freshman Rebecca Waterson, sophomores Heidi Johnson and Emily Hayes and Fackenthal, swam the first race of the championships, the 200-yard medley relay, finishing at 1 minute, 55.6 seconds in 12th place.

Fackenthal said the medley race was the day’s biggest success.

“It was the first event of the day, and sometimes the crowd and busyness can be intimidating,” Fackenthal said. “Getting used to the meet can sometimes take a while, and (the girls’ relay team) did very well for it being the first race of the day.

“Plus, we made finals in both relays for the first time in Country Day history.”

The girls’ relay team also swam a 1 minute, 43.68 seconds 200-yard freestyle relay race, placing 11th.

Johnson said the relay team did well, considering they beat their previous times in both events without Johnson or Hayes practicing.

Hayes said she was proud of the relay team because they made finals with 110 other schools competing and only 38 qualifying for finals.

Fackenthal said she enjoyed the championships’ size.

“Sections has tons of high schools and hundreds of girls, much different than the small dual meets we’ve been to,” Fackenthal said.

(Photo used by permission of Ayako Fackenthal)
Sophomore Emily Hayes dives into the pool.

“However, I think that the hype and crowds are the fun part, because you get more fast swimming.”

The championships were the season’s largest meet, so the team wore tech suits, tapered their practice and shaved, Waterson said.

Hayes was also pleased with her individual performance in the relay, finishing one of her splits at 27.60 seconds.

“This is the first time I’ve ever broken 28 (seconds), so (coach Brian Nabeta and I were) really pleased,” Hayes said.

Waterson swam a 56.62-second 100-yard butterfly, placing fifth, and a 59.24-second 100-yard backstroke, finishing ninth. The times were Waterson’s fastest for the high-school season, and she was the only freshman to place in the top 16.

Fackenthal placed first in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, finishing at 23.13 seconds and 50.2 seconds.

Fackenthal is the defending 100-yard freestyle champion.

On the second day, sophomore Joe Zales swam a 4 minute, 37.87 second 500-yard freestyle, placing eighth, almost 3.5 seconds behind his personal best. Additionally, Zales raced in the 200-yard freestyle, placing 18th with a personal best of 1 minute, 46.50 seconds.

Both relay times qualified for the B finals held on the last day.

The girls’ relay team swam a 1:55.68-second 200-yard medley relay, placing 13th.

The team also swam the 200-yard freestyle relay, but was disqualified for an infraction on one of the legs of the relay.

Waterson said she caused the disqualification.

“With my adrenaline running, I exceeded my normal underwater distance off the dive and came up after the 15-meter mark, which is not allowed,” Waterson said.

In the A finals, Waterson swam a 56.11-second 100-yard butterfly stroke, placing fifth. She also swam a 57.13-second 100-yard backstroke in the B finals, placing ninth and shaving 1.2 seconds off her best time.

One of the top 40 swimmers in California, Waterson will attend the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Swimming and Diving Championships in both events.

The CIF State Swimming and Diving Championships will be on Friday, May 19, for preliminaries and Saturday, May 20, for finals at Clovis Olympic Swim Complex.

Fackenthal finished first in both her 50-yard freestyle (23.04 seconds) and her 100-yard freestyle ( 50.22 seconds); she will race in state championships.

Zales swam the 500-yard freestyle in the A finals, finishing sixth with a best time of 4 minutes, 37.14 seconds.

Zales was pleased that he dropped time and improved his placing, but he also said he was .05 seconds from qualifying for the USA Futures Championships.

“(.05 seconds) is almost quicker than an eye blink,” Zales said.

“The next time I swim this I should (make) the cut easily.”

Zales said he won’t go to the state championships as he will attend a closer meet, the Woodland Spring Classic, with the Davis Arden Racing Team (DART) on May 19-21.

By Larkin Barnard-Bahn

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