July 11, 2021
Greentree Gators at South Irvine Dolphins (by David Meyer)
The South Irvine Dolphins are back! Covid could not crush the indomitable Dolphin spirit, and after a year out of the water, the Dolphins have returned stronger and more spritely than ever. Welcoming their longtime respected rivals, the Greentree Gators, to the Dolphins’ natural habitat, University High, the pod opened what will surely be an historic season. Soon, the ribbons and awards will appear, the Dolphin dollar store will do business, and trophies and medals will be awarded.
Before Independence Day, the Dolphins held their first meet, an intrasquad time trial, which set a baseline for what follows. The swimmers established first times in all of the events, setting a standard for the season. In each of the meets that followed, Dolphin swimmers will receive participant and place ribbons, marking competitive achievements. But the most coveted ribbon of all bears rainbow colors, earned for each time improvement.
The other marker to watch for is “ISLQ,” which stands for Irvine Swim League Qualifying Time. Every ISL swimmer can pick one event to swim in the Championship meet, but those with qualifying times can swim up to three individual events. The times are tough, and Dolphins will be chasing them.
Many Dolphins have already posted qualifying times, including Grace Baek, Joseph Baek, Levi Bouhbot, William Choi, Kyle Chuang, Declan Edwards, Cassius Espiritu, Kynsley Espiritu, Halle Ewing, Guilherme Friggi Falleiros, Ilia Ghorbani, George Hibbard, Liam Horan, Lauren Kwan, Holden LeVine, Mirabella LeVine, Benjamin Lee, Edward Lee, Handerson Lee, Noah Lee, Ryan Lee, Jean Meyer, Caitlyn Morales, Tyler Morales, Annika Nie, Mimi O’Melveny, Vincent Nelson, Jack Nelson, Brian Rezaee, Kale Sandland, Julia Shabanie, Taylor Simon, Anna Grace Soriano, Carlo Soriano, Marco Tirado, Caprie Troccoli, Niccolo Troccoli, Sophia Veranavich, Matt Wallin, Eric Wang, Kyle Wang, Nathan Wu, and Brandon Yu.
Dolphins demonstrated their prowess in the first meet against Greentree, as shown by impressive victories in the butterfly events: Levi Bouhbot powered to victory in the under 6 25 yard Fly. Olivia Lee, Kynsley Espiritu, and Kendra Alpert swept the top slots in the 9-10 50 Fly, and Brandon Yu and Nicolas Tsai pulled the top positions in the Boys’ race. Mimi O’Melveny set the pace as she won in the 11-12 50 Fly, and watched Marco Tirado, Eric Wang, and Niccolo Troccoli pull a sweep in the Boys’ race. Anna Grace Soriano won the 13-14 50 Fly for the girls, breaking 30 seconds. It’s a beautiful stroke when the Dolphins swim it.
And after a year cooped up in quarantine, the Dolphins demonstrated determination to drop time. Particularly impressive drops were everywhere. Logan Baik carved more than 10 seconds off his 25 yard freestyle and backstroke, and more than 20 seconds off his 25 butterfly. Carmina Blanco Torsetto dropped 11.82 seconds off her bristling 50 freestyle. Halle Ewing dropped an already fast 50 freestyle by nearly 5 seconds, to an intimidating 24.56. Felipe Falleiros Friggi sliced nearly 7 seconds from his 25 free, and more than 8 seconds from his 25 Fly. Holden Fournier cut his 25 Backstroke time by close to 50%, dropping nearly 30 seconds. Joseph Lee shaved 8.65 seconds from his 50 Free. Joshua Lerner dropped time everywhere, nearly 15 seconds in both his 25 Free and 25 Fly, and 17 seconds from his 25 Back. Rani Madani cut her 50 Breast time by 12.56 seconds, and Vincent Nelson’ dropped 13.72 seconds from his 50 Back. Anwan O’Byrne knocked 8.47 seconds from his 25 free, while Brian Rezaee chopped nearly 10 seconds from his 50 Back. Sebastian Smith cut his 50 Breast time by 10.93 seconds, and Carlo Soriano knocked 8.13 seconds from his 25 Breast.
But there was more:
Kendra Alpert, Lara Blanco, Halle Ewing, Holden Fournier, George Hibbard, Benjamin Lee, Olivia Lee, Mirabella LeVine, Caitlin Morales, Chase Nelson, Haley Soukesian, Angela Yu, and Zhixing Yu all earned rainbow ribbons by posting time improvements.
Even more swimmers posted two time improvements: Grace Baek, Joseph Baek, Lauren Baik, William Choi, Katherine Chow, Kyle Chuang, Antoinette Clancy, Dylan Elmer, Cassius Espiritu, Felipe Falleiros Friggi, Sean Finger, Kareen Gendy, Lauren Kwan, Joseph Lee, Holden LeVine, Frederic Liu, Rani Madani, Jean Meyer, Jack Nelson, Vincent Nelson, Brian Rezaee, Guy Ronen, Riley Simon, Taylor Simon, Sebastian Smith, Carlo Soriano, Nicolas Tsai, Aksel Varnali, Sophia Veravanich, Kyle Wang, Benjamin Zitzman, and Elle Zitzman.
And quite a few swimmers posted three time improvements, notching time drops in all of their individual events: Hailey Alpert, Lexi Baik, Logan Baik, Colton Barrett, Carmina Blanco Torsetto, Levi Bouhbot, Micah Bouhbot, Kynsley Espiritu, Guillherme Falleiros Friggi, Pierce Fournier, Noah Lee, Ryan Lee, Joshua Lerner, Annika Nie, Arian O’Byrne, Anwan O’Byrne, Mimi O’Melveny, Mateo Tirado, and Niccolo Troccoli.
The Dolphins also have a historic legacy to continue in their mixed relays. This year, for the first time ever, the Olympics will feature mixed relays, following the lead of the Dolphins and the Irvine Swim League, which have been swimming mixed relays for years. Dolphin teams scored victories in the under 6 group, 9-10, 11-12, and 13-14 Medley relays, and then in the 11-12, 13-14, and 15-18 Free Relays. Dolphins know how to work as a team.
The Dolphin Spirit was present in abundance, clearly demonstrated by Helena Blanco Torsetto, Brayden Chow, Gia Fournier, Rafik Gendy, Edward Lee, Handerson Lee, Matthew Lerner, Liyue Liu, Ella Marshall, Nick Mohandesi, Tyler Morales, Aimee Pak, Noah Pak, Kale Sandland, Jacob Shabanie, Mark Shabanie, Lyra Smith, Anna Grace Soriano, Benjamin Tsai, Derin Varnali, Adam Ward, and Chenyue Zhou.
The 2021 season was a long time in coming, but it will long be remembered; the Dolphins are making history.
Chek out the pictures for the meet by clicking here.