SCL Championships 2016

Dragons end the season with a huge exclamation point at the SRJC

Thursday and Friday of this week featured many current and former Sea Dragon high school athletes competing at the Sonoma County League Championships at the Santa Rosa JC.

The boys team took their perfect 5-0 dual meet record and added the outright league championship title with their commanding 438-374 victory over the 2nd place Analy Tigers.

Sea Dragons Dominic Tommasi (200 IM 2nd, 2:11.34 – 100 fly 1st, 55.94 - NCS consideration cut), Ethan Smith (50 free 4th, 24.48 – 100 free 2nd 53.73), and Owen Summers (100 fly 4th, 1:01.35 – 100 breast 2nd, 1:08.01) led the way for the Dragons. Amazing season guys!

The girls team entered the meet with a 4-1 dual meet record, and substantially cut into Analy’s margin of victory (250+ points last year), finishing a strong 2nd place, only 59 points behind the Tigers. With a strong incoming freshman class in 2017, the Dragons are certainly on the hunt for that league title!

Hannah Ladouceur (200 free 1st, 2:05.84 – 100 back 3rd, 1:03.04 - both NCS consideration cuts), Abby Parr (50 free 2nd, 26.41 – 100 free 3rd, 58.81), Grace Turner (200 IM 5th, 2:47.06, 100 breast 5th, 1:21.05) and Maya Grajczyk (100 fly 4th, 1:07.10 – 100 breast 1st, 1:13.43) racked up tons of points, and along with their high school teammate and former Sea Dragon, Cameron Taggesell, swam to 2 CIF NCS consideration times in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay! Awesome job girls!

You had to be there to experience the raw emotion and power of the swim (and the ensuing massive celebration shared among all the SVHS members), but former Sea Dragon, and team captain for the boys, Jack Lewis, ended his last high school league championship meet with the swim of his life, and without question the swim of the meet. If you were lucky enough to witness Jason Lezak’s Olymic come from behind victory in Beijing in the 400 free relay, you would certainly appreciate this story.

To contend with Analy, like Rowdy Gaines said of the American’s in 2008 “The USA will need to have absolutely perfect races on each leg to contend with the French”, all of our swims needed to be perfect to have a shot to win. Dominic’s goal in lead off was to stay close to Analy’s 2nd best sprinter, who won the 100 free earlier in the meet. Dominic actually out swims him, splitting a blistering 51.10, which would have been fast enough to win the 100 freestyle in the meet. Ethan Smith rockets to a lifetime best split of 53.3, but in pulling away, Analy’s 2nd leg was able to draft and stay somewhat close which had everyone worried. Owen Summers dives in and slowly widens our lead, inching further and further ahead, swimming a huge 54.3, and then we have Jack Lewis on the blocks, more a polo player than a swimmer really, who had trained amazing all season with so much heart, with slightly more than a 3 second lead – Jane and I looked at each other and said “we need 5 seconds”…

Like last year, somehow our anchor leg (Rick Taggesell had an amazing 51 anchor leg last year and held off a charging Jack Murphy from Analy until the bitter end, and we narrowly won) swimmers do not care about how fast the opposing swimmer is, they channel something from deep inside and swim out of their minds. At the 25, Jack looks great, he has opening speed, but he isn’t the best 100 freestyler we have, and for sure the slowest of the 4 on the relay – maybe a 54-55 lifetime best. At the 50, Jack has a pretty bad turn, and Murphy from Analy has closed the gap to maybe 1.5 seconds behind. He is a 500 freestyler and has closing speed. But, does he have enough… totally. We are ready to see him eat Jack Lewis up and steal the win.

At the last turn, they breakout almost dead even with Murphy at Jack’s shoulder and the crowd all gets to their feet to see this great dual (the last swim of the meet). With ½ a lap to go they are dead even, and we know, we’re dead, and not going to win, which would have been fine because all 4 guys had swam amazing and it was going to be a miracle to win the relay. I hope our luck (or heart, or a combination) never runs out, because somehow at the flags, with Analy inched slightly ahead, Jack throws in some of the fastest, grittiest, most heart-filled strokes and drives his arm to the wall for the WIN!!!!! Everyone shocked, elated, laughing, screaming, crying, you name it. We were told by some officials that they had never heard it so loud in the swim center before, and I believe it. I have seen some pretty amazing high school relays swims before, but that was one for the record books! Jack’s 51.98  was an other-worldy performance that will go down as one of the best swims in Dragon history without question.

And that is what high school swimming, and swimming in general, is really all about. Times, records, time standards… it sort of matters in the end, but memories like this one last a lifetime, and they color your memory much more than anything else.