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South Irvine Dolphins at College Park Splash

Meet #5, South Irvine Dolphins at College Park Splash

Irvine is the swim capital of the world. Excited cheering gushed out from at least a dozen pools in Irvine on Saturday morning, the last dual meet of this extraordinary 2022 Irvine Swim League season. The enthusiasm is everywhere, but nowhere was it stronger than at College Park, where the Dolphin Spirit was overwhelming. College Park splashed a challenge at the Dolphins, who rose to meet the moment. Even more important, the Dolphins are shifting their focus to the Irvine Swim League Championships.

And it wasn’t just the Irvine Swim League churning and turning. Not far from College Park, a good long fish throw to Heritage Park, Woollett hosted the US National Swimming championships, featuring past and future Olympians, including Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke. The US National Champs always includes veterans of the Irvine Swim League. Someday, it may include veterans of this exciting meet. This year, the National Championship is a very important event at Woollett—second only to the upcoming Irvine Swim League Championships! Managing the Nationals is a warm-up for the big show coming on August 13.

Every Dolphin swimmer can compete in at least one event of their choice at the Champs, and Dolphins benefit from a big turnout and a strong spirit. Swimmers who have posted qualifying times (ISLQ) can swim up to three individual events and a relay. As the National Champions know, it’s a fast pool. Dolphins, who swim 25 yard laps rather than the Olympic style 50 meter laps, have to swim even faster. In the next few days, Dolphins can consult with their coaches and pick their events.

The College Park Splash provided an excellent opportunity for the Dolphins to hone their strokes and focus on their best races. It was a great day for swimming. At Woollett this week, Katie Ledecky had posted her first time improvement in years, winning the 400 meter Individual Medley. At College Park, some Dolphins were faster. In the 100 yard Individual Medley, the longest event in ISL, and the most painful event in any meet, Eric Wang won the 11-12 division by nearly 20 seconds—minutes faster than Katie’s best time in the 400; Beckham Few was next, also posting a Qualifying Time.

In a tough day for Dolphin Relays, the 11-12 crew for the 200 yard free relay would not be denied. The team of Micah Bouhbot, Joseph Lee, Arlan O’Byrne, and Nicholas Tsai bested the top Splash team by more than 10 seconds.  And there were other impressive swims. Announcing her presence, 6 year old Katharine Chow dropped an impressive 3.5 seconds in the 25 yard butterfly, claiming a Qualifying Time and winning the event. Gia Fournier followed in the 11-12 50 yard Butterfly, dropping 8.85 seconds to claim her Qualifying Time. Pierce Fournier dropped a little more than a second to qualify in the 13-14 50 yard Backstroke. Matthew Lerner knocked more than 8 seconds off his best 50 Freestyle time. Yoonjae Oh sliced 5.52 seconds from her 50 Fly. Alyssa Parsi cut 9.5 seconds from her 50 Back. Then, Haley Soukesian carved more than 4.5 seconds from her 50 Breast, claiming a Qualifying Time. Brynn Uchida scratched 6.26 seconds from her 50 Fly; not to be outdone, younger sister Lia Uchida cut 6.3 seconds from her 25 Fly!

Although some older Dolphins noted that it was a hot day and a slow pool, younger Dolphins were undiscouraged and impressive.

Three Dolphins claimed three time improvements each: Big congratulations to Micah Bouhbot, Katherine Chow, and Beckham Few.

Dolphins with two time improvements included Amie Katharine Antonio, Brayden Chow, Shane Chung, Pierce Fournier, Noah Lee, Matthew Lerner, Claire Liu, Bryce Morales, Awnan O’Byrne, Yoonjae Oh, Alyssa Parsi, Haley Soukesian, Benjamin Tsai, Brynn Uchida, Lia Uchida, Kyle Wang, and Angela Yu.

Many Dolphins notched a single time improvement, including Hailey Alpert, Kendra Alpert, Levi Bouhbot, Declan Edwards, Dylan Elmer, Cassius Espiritu, Felipe Falleiros Friggi, Guiherme Falleiros Friggi, Gia Fournier, Rafik Gendy, Josephine Hwang, Handersen Lee, Dominic Liu, Tyler Morales, Mason Nguyen, Aidan O’Byrne, Arlan O’Byrne, Chase Robben, Jacob Shabanie, Stella Singer, Marco Pablo Tirado, Mateo Tirado, Nicholas Tsai, Adam Ward, Evan Wu, Linkan Yasinski, and Reese Yasinski.

And the Dolphin Spirit was present in abundance, carried by Aidan Antonio, Brij Bhargava, Rachel Chung, Desmond Dorish, Kynsley Espiritu, Halle Ewing, Jackson Few, Kareem Gendy, Ilia Ghorbani, Holden LeVine, Mirabella LeVine, Benjamin Lee, Edward Lee, Joseph Lee, Olivia Lee, Ryan Lee, Joshua Lerner, Jean Meyer, Noah Mobasseeri, Caitlyn Morales, Marcus Nguyen, Olivia Nguyen, Annika Nie, Bryan Rezaee, Julia Shabanie, Mark Shabanie, Noah Shmurak, Riley Simon, Taylor Simon, Carlo Soriano, Caprie Troccoli, Nicolo Troccoli, Scott Ward, and Elle Zitzman.