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Santa Margarita's Shoults breaks two meet records at Foothill Swim Games
Maybe rest is overrated, at least for some.
Many of Orange County’s elite swimmers showed again Saturday at the 44th Foothill Swim Games that they don’t need to be fully rested to blaze times in the pool.
Behind a pair of eye-popping meet records by Santa Margarita’s Grant Shoults, county swimmers raced through fatigue and morning workouts to post county-leading times in most events.
The rest from training, for most, won’t arrive for another week or two until league and CIF-SS finals.
“You don’t need to feel good to swim fast,” said Shoults, who won the 200-yard freestyle and 100 butterfly en route to being selected male swimmer of the meet. “The mind has a lot of power over how fast you swim. … It’s all about your attitude.”
School pride also pushed along the swimmers. Mater Dei’s boys and Santa Margarita’s girls grabbed team titles while Crean Lutheran’s runner-up girls took two of the three relays.
Crean Lutheran sophomore Elise Garcia, selected female swimmer of the meet, said her teammates pushed her to perform her best.
“I didn’t have extra speed today,” she said. “We really fought.”
Shoults swam a 6,500-yard workout with his Mission Viejo Nadadores club team earlier Saturday and then promptly attacked his 200 free en route to a meet-record and county-leading time of 1 minute, 35.64 seconds.
In smashing his meet record from his sophomore year by 3 1/2 seconds, Shoults split the first half of the race in 46.62 seconds, about two-tenths of a second faster than last May when he set the national private high school record with a 1:34.54.
“I just didn’t come back as fast (today),” Shoults said. “1:35 was the goal.”
Shoults also shattered Olympic silver medalist Michael Cavic’s 2001 meet record in the 100 butterfly by about three-quarters of a second by touching in a personal-best and school-record 48.11. The time places Shoults fourth in county history, about a second off Cavic's 47.13 2002.
The Stanford-bound senior moved to leadoff in the 200 free relay to help give extra rest for teammate Marc Morizono, racing his third consecutive event. Shoults clocked a personal-best 20.75, which would have won the 50 free.
He also closed the meet by anchoring the Eagles' 400 free relay to a victory in 3:07.99. In teaming with Kevin Tu, Noah Brune and Morizono, he split a 44.70 anchor, a reminder of his passion for high school swimming, Santa Margarita co-coach Rich Blanc said.
"Pretty impressive," Blanc said of Shoults. "He wants to lead not just by words but more importantly, by example."
Mater Dei’s boys took the 200 free relay. Payton Thomas (22.62), Kirby Slater (21.94), Clint Hurdle (21.77) and Christian Hockenbury (lifeftime-best 20.17) combined for a meet-record 1:26.50 to help spark their first Foothill title under Coach Ken Dory.
Hockenbury swept the 50 (20.94) and 100 (45.85) freestyles in lifetime-best times.
“League looks a little better (now),” Dory said with a smile.
Mater Dei scored 420 points to outdistance runner-up Northwood (348) for its third meet title this spring.
Garcia out-touched a hard-closing freshman Mackenzie Degn of Santa Margarita by six one-hundredths to take the 50 free with a county-leading 23.54. She then edged teammate Emily Eastin (54.50) in the 100 butterfly to touch in 54.29, good for seventh in county history.
Garcia wasn't known for her butterfly last season as a freshman and estimates she entered high school with a best time of 1:02 in the 100 butterfly.
"I've just improved so much in that event," she said. "(Eastin and I) really dueled. .. We wanted to go 1-2."
Eastin bounced back to defeat a strong field in the 100 backstroke with a county-leading 54.09, about a half-second ahead of Mater Dei’s Aislinn Light (school-record 54.63). University rising freshman Riley Lexvold and Courtney Mykkanen of Foothill also broke 56-seconds.
Santa Margarita’s girls captured their fourth straight team title behind victories by Samantha Shelton in the 200 free (county-leading 1:50.30), Degn in the 100 free (county-leading 50.74) and Isa Odgers in the breaststroke (county-leading 1:04.06).
Lexvold won the 200 individual medley in 2:02.69, tying her for 25th in county history. Crean Lutheran’s Brittany Kampfer outdueled Mater Dei freshman Stephanie Su (4:55.17) to claim the 500 free in 4:53.90. The Saints’ Kevin Chao captured the boys 500 in a lifetime-best 4:34.13.
"That was a gut swim," Crean Lutheran coach Craig Brown said of Chao's triumph.
At the Santa Margarita Diving Invitational:
Freshman Charlotte Bowen of Dana Hills (474.85) and Joseph Winkler of El Toro (481.30) collected titles.
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