June 27, 2018
For the first time in its 54-year history, the Strawberry Seals finished the regular Marin Swim League season undefeated and at the top of the team leaderboard after defeating the Sleepy Hollow Sea Lions in their pool, 310-244. Amid scorching early summer temperatures, the Seals prevailed in both points and spirit, with swimmers crowding the ends of the lanes as they cheered on their teammates and with multiple, cacophonous team cheers throughout the day.
“The spirit is off the charts!,” said one parent.
“I’m about to have a heart attack,” another parent murmured.
The Seals win truly was a team effort. In fact, Coach Mehrad Zarrehparvar was on the phone into the late hours the night before the competition, as he talked younger swimmers into arriving earlier than they had planned in order to swim medley relays and as he wheedled high school swimmers into abandoning their lazy summers plans and instead spending a few hours at the pool.
The effort wasn’t for naught, especially as it concerned the high school swimmers’ contribution. That began early with the 15-18 medley relay securing a coveted first-place finish (the win went to the B relay, as the Seals’ A relay was disqualified). Kalia Firmage and Sophia Brooks then placed first and third in the girls 15-18 100 freestyle, while Noah Erikson and Marc-Antoine Maync placed first and second in the boys 15-18 100 freestyle.
Overall, the 15-18 age group, boys and girls combined, ended up contributing 69 points to the team effort out of a possible 90 points, which was a distinct advantage to the Seals. In the boys 15-18 100 individual medley, Erikson, Maync and Nicolas Owenson actually finished first, second and third, respectively, but because of restricted scoring, the third place point actually ended up going to fourth place Sea Lion Tate Miller.
Restricted scoring helped the Seals in areas, though. And most markedly so in the 8-and-under boys 25 backstroke, a race in which none of the Seals’ more seasoned swimmers elected to swim. It fell upon 6-year-old Seal Rory Murphy to scoop up that single third place point, after Sleepy Hollow not only finished first, second and third, but actually first through thirteenth.
The usual suspects performed well for the Seals — Coco Quill, Marre Gattnar and Margeaux Davis to name a few — but there were some standout performances from those who are usually in the mix with solid performances. A good example of that came Saturday in the girls 9-10 50 back, where Seal Amanda Mauzy solidly outperformed her seed time and finished in a surprising first place, with teammate Charlie Derrick finishing second just a half-second behind.
Sleepy Hollow did try to pull out all the stops to secure a win, however. Strategy was the theme of the day, and the Sea Lions struck first by putting their power house 9-10 boy Nolan Anderson, the coach’s son, in their 9-10 medley B relay, thus making their B relay strong enough to edge out the Seals’ B relay, while the Sea Lions’ A relay narrowly finished first. It should be noted that Anderson was competing at quite a disadvantage, swimming with casts protecting not one, but two, broken wrists. Although Anderson was touched out in the 9-10 50 free individual event by first place Seal Declan Murphy, the 10-year-old Sea Lion did end up winning the 50 back despite the impediment.
But strategy wasn’t limited to the Sea Lions. The Seals had a little something up their sleeve when Coco Quill told Coach Zarrehparvar that she wanted to swim the 50 breaststroke, despite the fact that her seed time was slower than the fastest seeded Sea Lion, because she figured if she competed hard enough, she could win. The gamble paid off, and Quill won the 50 breast and in turn, Maeve McAuley won Quill’s usual event, the 50 butterfly.
The meet ended with a flourish, with the Seals’ A and B 200 free relays first and second to officially secure the win.
Next up for the Seals and for the rest of the league are the MSL Championships which will be held at the College of Marin’s Indian Valley College Campus on Saturday and which will be hosted by the Seals. The 10-and-under session begins at 6 am and the 11-and-up session begins at noon.