Osprey Fly High at Sr. Meet in Clovis

The Sr. groups, coached by Brian and Shannon, swam a taper and shave, peak performance meet March 5 thru 7 in Clovis. Joined by parent volunteer drivers Mike Walitsch, Amy Selfridge and Chris Owen, the coaches took 18 swimmers to the annual Juanita Allington Memorial Senior Meet. Attended by 20 or so teams, the meet was host to top competitors from Pacific Swimming, Central California and Sierra Nevada Swimming.

"It was the best we've swam at a meet of this caliber so far," said Brian. Indeed the 2nd place finish was the team's highest ever outside of SVSL's. The meet was trials in the morning and finals in the evening. Overall, 11 Osprey got second-swim finals; lead by Michelle Berry who qualified for 7 different finals and swam 6. Just as she had done in San Diego 3 weeks earlier, Michelle once again set the pace for the team, displaying a toughness to match her talents. Michelle swam 9,000 yards total on day one, 1,400 of those yards she raced and the rest were warming up and warming down. On day two, she swam 8,000 yards and also raced another 1,400. Michelle raced 16 times over the 3-day meet and maxed out on each occasion, earning Osprey Ultimate Meet Warrior honors, aka OUMWa. Jackson Steinberg swam 5 finals and raced 17 times to also earn OUMWa status. Cat Lad and Rachel Owen also earned OUMWa honors, to give the team 4 swimmers with such distinction, the most in any meet so far this year.

In addition to finishing 7th in the 500 Free with a 5:10.38 (5:09.49 in trials), Michelle's finest moment may have been her anchor leg in the 800 Free Relay. After already completing a grueling program racing the 200 Free and 400 IM twice on Saturday, once each in trials and finals, Michelle stood atop the blocks ready to gut out another 200 Free and help the Osprey in our bid to win our second relay in 2 days. Tied for 2nd going in, Michelle broke away from her closest rival and swam by the leading team with a strong 1:56.1 to bring the Osprey victory in at 7:54.91. Catherine Ladd lead off in 1:58.69, Rachel Owen split a 2:00.05, (each also competing in their third 200 Free of the day). Courtney Dean split 2:00.0 in what would prove to be a new team record for the four! The Osprey B team of Mollie Selfridge, Kasey Shewchuk, Kellen Power and Jamie Walitsch finished 3rd in 8:13.53. The Osprey guys also stood out – Robert Kubacki (1:54.9), Max Borman (1:59.41), Jackson Steinberg (1:51.79) and Riley Doyle (1:57.84) combined to go 7:43.94 for 2nd place. Earlier in finals on day two, Linnea Mack won the 50 Free with a team record 23.38. Kasey Shewchuk made consoles, finishing in 16th place with a 25.11.

The highlights were many, and too numerous to mention, but these stood out. On day one, Linnea Mack went a lifetime best and team record 50.86 to finish 2nd in the 100 Free. Catherine Ladd won consolation finals with a best of 53.13. Rachel Owen went a best of 54.77 to make the bonus consoles. For the guys, Jackson Steinberg, had the meet of his life, on fire throughout, he went 50.17 to make bonus consoles. Robert Kubacki had a big drop of his own going 50.84 to narrowly miss finaling. Cat Ladd won her second consolation final of the meet in the 200 Back, dropping 4 seconds off her best going into the meet, to go 2:07.04. Jamie Walitsch, who raced 13 times herself at the meet, set a 17-18 girls team record in the 400 IM in bonus consoles, breaking 4:40 for the first time with a 4:38.13 in what was definitely one of the best swims of the meet, shaving 7 seconds off her prelims swim. The biggest moment of day one came in the women's 400 Free Relay. The team of Cat Ladd, Linnea Mack, Miranda Carter and Rachel Owen broke the Pacific Record, going 3:32.87 to finish first. That is the third Pacific Relay Record for this foursome this season! Close behind in 3rd place with a time of 3:39.51 was Kasey Schewchuk, Michelle Berry, Mollie Selfridge and Courtney Dean, a swim that is number 3 all time for the team. Kasey set the tone with a breakthrough leadoff leg, cranking out a fast 54.09, a time that puts her number 2 all time for 15-16 OAQ girls. The Osprey men finished 5th in the 400 Free Relay, Robert Kubacki, Zach Borman, Jackson Steinberg and Riley Doyle combining to go 3:28.06, 2nd of all time for the team.

Day three saw more team history. Linnea Mack broke Natalie Coughlin's 14-year-old record in the 100 Back! It's a record that has been around as long as the Osprey, going back to 1996. Linnea went 55.10 to dip below the old record by 14 one hundredths. In the process, Linnea won the event and also became the first Osprey to become a Sr. Nationals qualifier. Cat Lad followed that swim with a LB of her own, breaking 1:00 for the first time with a 59.05 100 Back. There were 6 Osprey girls in the three finals heats of that race. Lauren Wong had gone her best 1:00.90 to final for the second time at the meet, a first for her at this level. Michelle Berry dropped from a 1:03 to 1:01.55, Miranda Carter went a 1:00:75, and Jamie went 1:01.16 to get a second swim. Riley Doyle, swimming his first ever final in a USA meet in bonus consoles swam a LB 59.50. Jackson Steinberg had an excellent 100 Fly win the bonus final in 55.57, quite a drop from his 57.3 entry time and a swim that ranks his 2nd for 15-16 Osprey boys all time. Jackson also went a LB 1:03.86 in the consoles of the 100 Breast. Rachel Owen, in her fourth final, had a LB and team record 100 Breast for 13-14 girls, making consoles with a 1:08.30. The final event of the meet was the Girls 400 Medley Relay. The Osprey team of Carter, Owen, Mack and Ladd finished 1st with a time of 3:57.13, giving the Osprey a sweep of all three girls relays as a team. The B team of Wong, Berry, Walitsch and Shewchuk finished 4th with a 4:11.05. For the Osprey guys, Doyle, Steinberg, Kubacki and Z. Borman finished 5th with a 3:57.20.

Other noteworthy performances were posted in between trials and finals in the 200 Free, where Zach Borman went 1:59.98, Max Borman swam a 1:58.58 and Riley Doyle went 1:59.19. Nutt Taikeff, a real leader along with Zach Selfridge (who hurt his shoulder and couldn't swim) throughout the meet had a lifetime best of his own in the 100 Free prelims with a 54.66.

 Congratulations to all of our swimmers who made the team's performance possible! To an individual, they conducted themselves with character and class and created a winning atmosphere for the group.