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Memorable day for Rankin at Div. 1 prelims
RIVERSIDE - Orange County swimmers delivered strong performances in waves at the CIF-SS Division 1 prelims Thursday, but none topped the versatility of University’s Megan Rankin.
The senior made a smooth transition in a new CIF event, blasted one of the best distance swims in Orange County history and, just for good measure, accepted a date to a prom.
The prospective date was Capistrano Valley’s Logan Redondo, who drew a question mark on his chest and handed Rankin a bouquet of red roses after her rousing 500-yard freestyle.
Talk about good timing.
Rankin happily answered “yes” to Redondo, but she also had other reasons to smile.
The UCLA signee highlighted the ultra-fast session by qualifying first in the 500-yard freestyle with a lifetime-best 4 minutes, 43.94 seconds. The time places Rankin sixth in county history and joins her with county-record holder Janet Evans (4:37.30) and Kaitlin Sandeno (4:39.64) – both Olympic gold medalists - as the only county girls under 4:44 since 1985.
Sandeno’s time from 2001 is the Division 1 record.
“It’s reachable now, I guess. I hope,” Rankin said of Sandeno’s standard. “It felt like I was going a 4:48. I was surprised when I looked up (at my time).”
Rankin split the 250 in 2:20.82. She hopes to be a little faster in the back-half for Saturday’s 5 p.m. finals.
“I used to go out (fast) and die really hard, like last year at CIF,” Rankin said. “I’m learning to swim it correctly. … I’m happy with (today’s) splits.”
Rankin, who trains with the Evans at Golden West Swim Club, also qualified first in the 200 individual medley with a 2:02.27. The IM is a new CIF event for Rankin, but she used a strong breaststroke to power to the No. 1 seed.
“I was more excited (about the IM) because I really don’t like the 200 freestyle,” she said.
JSerra’s Katie McLaughlin and University’s Cheyenne Low also clocked No. 1 seeds in their two events.
McLaughlin blazed a lifetime-best 54.23 in the 100 butterfly to move to No. 3 in county history. The freshman also earned the middle lane in the 200 free with a 1:49.25, the only sub 1:50 time.
Low recorded personal-bests in the 100 free (50.66) and 100 back (55.84).
University’s two-time defending champion girls had strong prelims, qualifying first in the medley (1:43.81) and narrow seconds in the 200 and 400 free relays to JSerra.
“They’re our competition in the relays,” Low said of JSerra.
McLaughlin (50.02) and Low (50.10) each almost broke 50 seconds in separate anchor legs of the 400 free relays. “It will be fun to race,” McLaughlin of the relay showdowns.
Boys contender Capistrano Valley had an impressive prelims, especially in the 500 free. Redondo (4:29.04) led a first-second-third sweep for the Cougars in the distance race with Zach Ridout (4:31.14) and Nick Norman (4:31.37).
Redondo also helped the Cougars qualify first in the 400 free relay (3:06.45).
“I think it’s a race for second (behind Capistrano Valley),” Corona del Mar coach Barry O’Dea said of the team competition.
The Cougars’ Jack DesCombes led the county sprinters by sizzling a lifetime-best 44.89 in the 100 free to grab a close No. 2 seed behind Fred Abramyan of Loyola (44.79).
DesCombes, a junior, now ranks eighth in county history.
Northwood’s Michael Chang qualified first in the 100 butterfly in a lifetime-best 49.16, which moves him to sixth in county history.
Mater Dei’s Jon Walters, a water polo standout, unleashed a lifetime-best 56.65 in the 100 breaststroke to earn a top seed, about two-tenths of a second ahead of teammate Dylan Payne.
Corona del Mar’s Jared Namba qualified first in the 200 individual medley in a lifetime-best 1:51.54.