The Junior Olympic Swim Meet was held at the Cactus Pool in Scottsdale on Feb. 23-25. The meet required competitors to achieve qualifying times in a previous USA Swimming Sanctioned Meet. Ten swimmers from the Sea Lions Swim Team qualified and participated in the meet. The Sea Lions took home a total of 13 medals from the meet. AJ Lopez (14) of Hayden had the swimming performance of his life, winning 5 races in personal best times.
AJ led the medal haul for the team winning 5 out of the 6 races he swam in the 13-14 Age Group. His 1000 Freestyle time of 11:20.71 was more than a full minute faster that he had ever swam before, yet his winning time was just a fraction of second faster than the next competitor who he passed in the final 50 yards of the race for the win. The tight margin of victory made an exciting race that kept teammates, coaches and family member excited and cheering loudly through the finish.
In preliminaries on Saturday morning AJ earned a spot in the finals in all three event he swam by placing in the top 8. In Finals on Saturday evening, his personal best times in the 100 Freestyle (55.02), 200 Backstroke (2:19.6), and 200 Butterfly (2:21.74) were good enough to beat the tough competition.
Sunday morning prelims resulted in AJ once again advancing to finals in two events. Sunday evening in his 200 Freestyle final he achieved a his personal best time of 2:03.73 that was good enough for a 4th place finish. A short while later he bested the field in an outstanding 200 Breaststroke Final Swim with another personal best time of 2:36.16 earning his 5th Gold Medal of the meet.
Several other Sea Lions took home medals from the meet. Mason Stewart (12) of Mammoth earned 2 Silver medals (100 Breast, 200 Butterfly), Ethan Kellam (12) of San Manuel won a Gold Medal in the 1650 Freestyle, and Ben Fister (12) of San Manuel earned a Bronze (1000 Free), 2 Silvers (200 Back + 200 IM), and 2 Golds (100 IM + 200 Butterfly).
AJ and several other Sea Lions Swimmers will be participating in the Arizona Age Group State Championship Meet to be held at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center March 8-11.
Kids (ages 5-18) of any ability (even kids who cannot swim but are ready and willing to learn) are welcome to join the Sea Lions Swim Team. The Summer Team will begin practice at the Mammoth Pool practice 4:30- 6 p.m. Monday-Fridays beginning in April. The team consists of swimmers from Oracle, San Manuel, Hayden and Mammoth. Check the Sea Lion Website (sealionsswimteam.com) or contact Alex or Wendy Gort for more information at 520-896-2190.