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PHOTO, TEXT BY DAN ALBANO, OCVARSITY.COM
Laguna Beach celebrates its first CIF-SS swim title.

Crean Lutheran's Eastin leads pack in record day at Division 2 swim finals

STAFF WRITER

RIVERSIDE – The CIF-SS Division 2 swimming finals dished out the rarest of treats for aquatics fans Saturday.

There was a national record courtesy of Crean Lutheran’s Ella Eastin in the 200 IM. A drag-out duel for the championship plaque for Crean Lutheran’s girls. A rare double for Laguna Beach’s boys. And even a tie for first in the 500-yard freestyle, the longest event on the card.

“It’s been a great day for water lovers,” Laguna Beach senior Jack Dodson said after the pool finally settled at Riverside City College.

Crean Lutheran’s girls and Laguna Beach’s boys led the parade of accomplishments.

The Saints outdueled defending champion Glendora, 319.5-296, for its third consecutive section title overall while Laguna Beach’s boys powered past runner-up Murrieta Valley, 219-181, to claim the Breakers’ first swimming title.

Both county champions won after racing in Division 3 last May. Crean Lutheran captured its first two titles by large margins in Division 3 and celebrated with “Crean Sweep 3-Peat” shirts Saturday.

Laguna Beach also grabbed the CIF Division 3 title in boys water polo in the fall, giving the Breakers a rare double. The 400-yard freestyle relay of Cameron Karkoska, Max Morgan, Cade Baldridge and Erik Juliusson capped the title by winning in a school-record 3 minutes, 5.75 seconds. Baldridge donned a balloon hat in the post-meet celebration. “It’s been a phenomenal year for Laguna Beach,” Dodson said.

Eastin had a phenomenal final CIF meet. The Stanford-bound senior smashed her national private school record in the 200-yard individual medley and narrowly missed the overall standard with a best time of 1 minute, 53.90 seconds.

After touching just .08 of a second off Dagny Knutson’s 2009 overall high school record, Eastin splashed the water and flashed a bright smile, a reaction to a long-sought personal-best. She broke her record of 1:55.15 from her sophomore year and got giant hug from Saints coach Craig Brown.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to go a best-time in that event,” said Eastin, who will race next week at the state meet. “It’s just relieving, waiting so long and having all your hard work pay off.”

Eastin later captured the breaststroke in an Orange County-record 1:00.39. She also helped the Saints capture the medley (1:43.43) and 400 (3:22.67) relays in meet records. Her sister, Emily Eastin, took titles in the butterfly (54.24) and backstroke (53.81), while freshman Elise Garcia won the 50 free (23.08). The Saints then stuck around to cheer teammate Colten Young, who captured the six-dive state qualifier.

Sonora swept the 500 freestyles in unique fashion. Sophomore Taylor Ault defended her title by clocking a lifetime-best and county-leading 4:43.46, placing her sixth in county history. She also won the 200 free in a Division 2 record 1:46.07 and led off the 400 free in 49.80, also lifetime-best times. But her freshman teammate, Simon Lamar, completed the sweep by tying Dane Bell of La Cañada with a touch of 4:29.63 from Lane 7. “Lets do a swim off,” Sonora coach Todd Jacobsen joked.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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