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JOSH BARBER , CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Santa Margarita's Grant Shoults slaps the water in celebration after setting a national record of 1:33.26 in the boys 200 freestyle. He also set a national record in the 500 free at the Division 1 finals.

Santa Margarita's Shoults stuns with two national records (video)

STAFF WRITER

RIVERSIDE – Santa Margarita’s swimming program produced some of the best individual and team racing the CIF-SS Division 1 final could handle Saturday night.

The meet, however, couldn’t quite handle Grant Shoults.

The Santa Margarita senior smashed national high school records in the 200- and 500-yard freestyles, drawing a range of reactions as he showcased a rare blend of speed and endurance at Riverside City College.

The Stanford-bound swimmer shared the spotlight with Santa Margarita’s girls, who claimed a third consecutive Division 1 crown by racking up 309 points to outdistance upstart Woodbridge (271.5).

Dana Hills’ boys overcame a tough disqualification to breaststroker Trent Pellini in prelims to finish a distant second (252.5 points) to team champion Loyola of Los Angeles (369.50).

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But the county’s night belonged to Santa Margarita.

“We take a lot of pride (in our program),” said Santa Margarita’s Samantha Shelton, who captured the 200 freestyle (1 minute, 45.06 seconds) and 100 butterfly (53.72) in lifetime-best times and anchored the winning the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

“This was definitely our hardest (title) because we lost Katie (McLaughlin) but the depth of our team proved (itself).”

Shoults’ record-setting night began with the 200 freestyle. His intentions were clear from the start. He was going after the national prep record set earlier Saturday by Maxime Rooney in Northern California.

Shoults blasted a time of 1:33.26 to slice almost a half-second off Rooney’s time of 1:33.70, which edged the national record by Tom Shields of Edison (1:33.83) in 2009.

Shoults’ time drew a roar from the crowd and leaping splash from the celebrating new record-holder once he lifted his googles to check his time.

But he wasn’t done. He captured the 500 freestyle in a national high school record 4:12.87, smashing the 2013 record of Jack Conger by exactly a second. Conger now swim at Texas and hails from Maryland.

Shoults didn’t celebrate as much after the 500. He was visibly tired as he hung on the wall but his blend of speed and endurance was evident.

“I 100 percent contribute that to Coach (Bill) Rose (of the Mission Viejo Nadadores), Coach Bill Voigt, Coach Richard (Hunter),” Shoults said. “Work works. ... It’s the training at the Nadadores that put me in a place to get those times. … I’m so happy how it all turned out.”

And Shoults posted the records without shaving or tapering because of the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June.

“Grant is a machine,” said Coach Terry Stoddard of Swim Pasadena. “What you saw was history. … (He’s) the combination of sprint speed and endurance. It’s rare.”

Shoults' splits backed up Stoddard's belief.

He split the halfway point of the 200 in a swift 45.65 seconds (22.00, 23.65) and then held a 23.81 and 23.80 to the wall.

Rose praised him for his execution afterward. "That's how you swim a 200," he told Shoults.

In the 500, he split the first 250 at 2:05.24 and came home in 2:07.63.

"His endurance is very, very good," Voigt said of Shoults. "He's an exceptional athlete."

The finals sessions produced drama in the first event. Woodbridge’s medley relay appeared to rally to out-touch Mater Dei for the victory but the timing board flashed a disqualification for the Warriors. But the board soon changed the “D” to another lane and the Warriors’ team of Sydney Okubo, Isis Choi, Whitney Chang and anchor Molly McCance claimed the title in 1:44.71.

Santa Margarita deployed the combinations of Mackenzie Degn, Marriott Hoffmann, Jeni Griffin, Shelton, Emily Boggess and Isabela Patino to touch first in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays (1:34.02, 3:24.38).

Shelton's 200 free moved her to No. 2 in county history -- past legendary Sippy Woodhead among others -- behind McLaughlin's Division 1 record 1:43.01. She climbed to No. 6 in the butterfly, just behind former county record holder Kaitlin Sandeno at 53.70.

The county also crowned individual champions in Edison’s Nora Deleske (200 individual medley, 1:59.53), Woodbridge’s Kate Krolikowski (500 free, lifetime-best 4:47.54) and Foothill’s Courtney Mykkanen (100 back, 54.19). Deleske's time ranks her fifth in county history.

Fountain Valley’s Justin Nguyen continued his rise by capturing the 100 free in the No. 5 all-time county time of 44.58 and adding the title in the backstroke (48.94). He ranks No. 7 all-time in the dorsal event.

"It's exciting to win races," said Nguyen, who captured his first CIF titles.

Mater Dei’s Christian Hockenbury won the 50 free in an outside lane with a county-leading 20.47. The junior ranks fifth in county history in the two-lap race.

Huntington Beach’s 200 free relay also showed its sprint speed. Peter Crocker, Jacob Cavano, Grant Brehm and Ethan Wojciechowski won in 1:23.23, third in county history. The same foursome placed second in the 400 free relay with a 3:03.16, also third in county history.

The Sunset League girls proved mighty, placing Edison (fifth), Marina (eighth) and Los Alamitos (ninth) in the top-nine. Tesoro's girls placed third.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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