San Manuel swimmers compete at State Championship meet

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Riley Stewart competes. (Apuron photo)

The Arizona Age Group State Championship Swim Meet was held March 7-10 at the Phoenix Swim Club Brophy Swimming Complex, where Evan Apuron (9), Riley Stewart (9), and Gianna Sweeney (11) achieved qualifying times at USA Swimming sanctioned meets to allow them to compete at the meet for swimmers ages 14 and under.

Sea Lions Head Coach Alex Gort expressed pride in the fact that all three swimmers were at the young end of the their respective age groups and this year provided valuable experience for the future.

Swimmers were allowed to swim up to a maximum of six events at the meet, providing they achieved the tough qualifying times.

Evan Apuron qualified for every event in the 10 and Under age group, but had to choose which six to swim at the meet. In the championship meet format, swimmers swim preliminaries in the morning, with the top eight advancing to the Championship Finals and the next eight places advancing to the consolation finals.

On his first morning of competition, Apuron swam the 50 yard Butterfly and qualified for the championship finals and qualified in the 100 yard Freestyle for the consolation finals. In the evening finals session, Apuron had the race of his life, finishing third in the 50 Butterfly with a time of 32.39 seconds. He was awarded his bronze medal by Olympic Swimming Champion Misty Hyman.

Later during the evening, he finished 11th in the 100 yard Freestyle. During the Saturday morning preliminary session, he qualified for the consolation finals in the 200 yard IM and finished 21st in the 50 yard Backstroke.

Later in the 200 IM consolation finals, he swam a tough race and finished 13th with a time of 2:49.49. During Sunday Preliminaries, he qualified both the 100 yard IM and the 100 yard Butterfly for the Consolation Finals. A couple of great swims in the finals put Apuron in 11th place in the 100 yard IM (1:18.09) and 9th place in the 100 yard Butterfly with an amazing time of 1:13.47.

“Wow,” was how Coach Alex Gort summarized his performance at the meet. In several of his events, Apuron was the fastest 9 year old swimmer.

Gianna Sweeney qualified in four events in the 11-12 age group, but was unable to participate in her first event, the 400 yard Individual Medley (IM), due to illness. Sweeney swam the 200 yard IM, 50 yard Breaststroke, and 100 yard Breaststroke finishing 43rd, 48th, and 41st respectively. Sweeney showed lots of determination by giving it her best while it was evident that she had not fully recovered from her illness during the week.

Riley Stewart entered the maximum number of events allowed in the 10 and Under age group. Stewart swam the three longest events in his age group, the 500 yard Freestyle, the 200 yard Freestyle and the 200 yard IM, finishing 22nd, 27th and 38th respectively to start off the meet.

Later he showed he could also sprint, finishing 39th in the 50 yard Backstroke, 40th in the 50 yard Breaststroke, and 26th in the 100 yard Breaststroke. This is Stewart’s first year swimming and his great work ethic and tenacity in practice have made him capable of competing with the best.

Two more San Manuel Swimmers will be competing at the 8 and Under Championship Meet to be held Mar. 16 and 17 at the new Oro Valley Aquatic Center in Oro Valley. Ethan Kellam and Mason Stewart, both seven years old, are scheduled to compete in several events at the meet.


Gianna Sweeney competes. (Apuron photo)


Evan Apuron celebrates with his coaches. (Apuron photo)

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