May 19, 2007
CONCORD -- Emerging from the pool Saturday at the Concord Community Center, Montgomery's Amanda Sims was enveloped with a crescendo of applause and cheers.
It was a fitting tribute for Sims, who moments earlier had won the 100-yard backstroke, her seventh overall North Coast Section championship and second of the day. She received a glowing tribute from the meet announcer, who called her one of the North Coast Section's "best-ever" swimmers.
High praise when you consider the talent that has come through the Redwood Empire, including Olympian Jenna Johnson and eight-time NCS qualifier Ian Lentz of Casa Grande.
Sims' win in the 100 backstroke was testament to not only her natural talent, but her resolve. She outreached Foothill's Karen Wang at the line when it looked like Wang, who had the fastest qualifying time (57.00), might overtake Sims in the final few strokes. Sims' time in the demanding event was 56.84; Wang touched the blocks in 56.86.
Montgomery coach Mark Stanley, who was the school's swim captain in 1969, called Sims relentless.
"She never does anything 99 percent; even her practices are perfect, every stroke is perfect," Stanley said. "It takes unbelievable focus and power; it's a start, a turn, and a finish."
In the 100 butterfly, Sims' specialty, she was overpowering. The three-time defending champ made it look simple, winning in 54.81. Rachel O'Brien of College Park was second in 56.20, and Ursula Daily of Albany third.
"I wanted my time to be a little faster," said Sims, who now has seven individual NCS titles to her credit. "But I can't complain since I won."
In the 200 individual medley, Montgomery's Penelope Yamauchi held off Maria Carrillo freshman Maya DiRado to pick up the victory, finishing in 2:00.98 to eclipse her own Empire record of 2:03.76 set Friday in qualifying.
"I knew (DiRado) was right there," Yamauchi said. "Even in practice, we are competitive."
DiRado, who came back later in the day to swim a strong 500-meter freestyle -- she was second to Shelly Harper of Las Lomas in 4:55.79 -- said she knew she would have to make up distance in the freestyle, the last leg in the event.
Yamauchi took a short lead in the butterfly, increased her advantage some in the backstroke -- the second leg -- and then essentially put the race away with a strong move in the breaststroke.
"After the breaststroke, I knew I would have a lot of catching up," DiRado said.
It took 12 months, but Maria Carrillo's Jim Fong finally got a championship medal in the boys' 100 backstroke. Analy's Max Horrell was third in a personal-best 51.48.
"Last year I made a mistake and didn't make the finals," Fong said. "So I really wanted to come back and win. I've been waiting for this for the past year."
In the 200 medley relay, Sims and Yamauchi combined with their freshman sisters Stephanie Sims and Sophia Yamauchi for a third-place finish.
Penelope Yamauchi was third (1:03.77) in the 100 breaststroke, and Santa Rosa's Molly Hannis (1:04.16) fourth.
Montgomery's girls were ninth in the team competition behind winner Foothill, and Maria Carrillo 11th. Analy was 14th in the boys' team totals, won by Campolindo.