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KEVIN SULLIVAN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Corona del Mar's Eva Merrell enters the water for the girls varsity 100 butterfly, which she won, during the Sea Kings' meet against University on Wednesdsay.

Notes: CdM freshman Merrell likes Franklin's style

STAFF WRITER

Corona del Mar freshman Eva Merrell was born in Colorado, so guessing one of her favorite swimmers isn’t tough.

It’s Olympian Missy Franklin, who is from Centennial, Colo.

But Merrell doesn’t admire Franklin only because of her Olympic gold medals. It’s because of her interaction with Franklin, 19, during an age-group meet a few years ago.

“I was actually at a meet with her,” Merrell recalled this week after the Sea Kings’ 95-75 victory against University. “I remember I was about 10 and I was so nervous. Me and my friend went up to her and got an autograph. I was so nervous, but she’s so nice.

“She’s our role model because she’s so nice and she’s super-fast.”

Merrell is getting noticed for her speed. The Aquazot club swimmer has blazed to school records this spring in the 100-yard freestyle (county-leading 50.44 seconds), 100 butterfly (54.07) and 100 backstroke (56.02). She set a national age-group record for the 13-14 division in the 100 fly (53.19) in December.

Merrell also has qualified for next summer’s Olympic Trials in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 50 free and is looking to add the 200 backstroke and 100 free.

“It’s going to be an exciting summer,” Merrell said. “I remember hearing that when (Franklin) was 12, she got her Olympic Trials cut and I thought, ‘Hope that can be me one day, going to Trials.’”

Merrell moved to Orange County at age 11 when her father changed jobs.

HEARTFELT SUPPORT

Marina showed its support for Edison coach Diggy Riley by wearing swim caps in honor of Riley’s late wife, Sally, during the teams’ Sunset League meet Tuesday. The caps read “#TeamSally” and featured the cancer ribbon symbol for Sally, 50, who died last week after a year-long battle with melanoma.

Edison’s team wore “#Swim4Sally” T-shirts with the motto, “God’s Got this” on the upper chest.

“The love toward me, (son) Tanner, (daughter) Lindsay and my family was incredible,” Diggy Riley said in a text. “Hard to put into words.”

EYES ON MESA

Katie McLaughlin of Santa Margarita and the Mission Viejo Nadadores emerged as a contender for the U.S. 800 free relay by placing a strong fourth in the 200-meter freestyle at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Ariz., on Thursday.

The senior blazed a lifetime-best 1:58.00, third-fastest by an American woman this year.

“Sets her up as (a) possible challenger for (the) 800 free relay (for the 2016 Olympics) if she continues to improve,” Nadadores coach Bill Rose said in a text from the meet.

Santa Margarita freshman Samantha Shelton, also racing for the Nadadores, earned her Olympic Trials cut in the 200 free with a 2:01.92 in the B final.

NOTES

The long-established Estancia frosh-soph invitational, which often features freshmen and sophomore varsity swimmers, is Saturday starting at 9 a.m. The schools participating are: Estancia, Mater Dei, Newport Harbor, Northwood, Ocean View, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Kennedy and Calvary Chapel.

JSerra’s Sonia Wang, a transfer from Upland, made her debut Thursday by clocking a county-leading 55.15 in the 100 backstroke. She clocked a 55.02 in the 100 butterfly, good for fourth in the county.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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