Sea Lions compete at State Championship Meet

Evan Apuron (10) 100 Butterfly
Jeanine Apuron | Sea Lions

Tabitha Kellam Jeanine Apuron | Sea Lions

Darien Apuron (12) 200 Backstroke
Jeanine Apuron | Sea Lions

Giana Sweeney Jeanine Apuron | Sea Lions

Coach Alex, Darien, Evan, Tabitha, Coach Maya Jeanine Apuron | Sea Lions

Riley Stewart Jeanine Apuron | Sea Lions

The Arizona State Championship Swim Meet was held March 6-9 at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center. Sea Lion Swimmers Tabitha Kellam (10), Evan Apuron (10), Riley Stewart (10), Darien Apuron (12) and Gianna Sweeney (12) all achieved individual qualifying times at USA Swimming sanctioned meets to allow them to compete at the championship meet for swimmers ages 14 and under. Additionally, the Sea Lions qualified six relay teams for the meet. The Sea Lions team scored 138 points to finish in 18th place (out of 41 teams in the Arizona). Head Coach Alex Gort expressed pride in the fact that a community our size fielded a team that beat more than half the teams in the state.

This was the first year that the Sea Lions qualified to swim relays at the championship meet and they did very well. The 12 and Under Girls Relay Team of Gianna Sweeney, Darien Apuron, Tabitha Kellam, and Jasmine Smith (12) had great swims in the 400 Freestyle Relay (finished 19th), 200 Medley Relay (20th), 200 Freestyle Relay (19th), and 400 Medley Relay (22nd). The 10 and Under Boys 200 Medley Relay team of Riley Stewart, Mason Stewart (8), Evan Apuron, and Rocky Andrade (8), finished 13th, while the 200 Freestyle Relay Team of Riley Stewart, Evan Apuron, Ethan Kellam (8) and Rocky Andrade finished 15th. “The relays are the backbone of any swim team and we had some great relay swims,” added Coach Gort.

In the championship swim meet format, all swimmers compete in preliminaries each morning. The fastest 16 swimmers return in the evening for finals. Swimmers are limited to a maximum of six individual events over the four day meet.

Gianna Sweeney qualified for many events and decided to compete in some of the toughest grueling events. She started the meet with 1650 yard freestyle in which she finished 24th. The following day she competed in the 200 Breaststroke (26th) and 400 Individual Medley (30th) achieving best times in both. Personal best times in the 50 Breaststroke (19th) and the 500 Freestyle (37th) were not good enough to crack the top 16. It was on the final day of the meet that Sweeney was able to qualify for the finals session placing 15th place in the 100 IM with a great swim of 1:10.53.

Darien Apuron qualified in three individual events, finishing 38th in the 50 Butterfly, 31st in the 50 Backstroke, and 39th in the 200 Backstroke.

Riley Stewart qualified for the Consolation Finals (9th-16th) in the 200 Freestyle and won to finish 9th. Stewart would swim well over the next few days, but the tough competition would keep him out of the top 16 places. Stewart finished 20th in the 200 IM, 18th in the 50 Breaststroke, 23rd in the 100 Breaststroke, 18th in the 50 Freestyle, and was disqualified for an illegal turn in the 100 IM.

Tabitha Kellam started the meet off with a 9th place finish in the 500 Freestyle on Thursday evening. The next morning she finished 8th in the 200 Freestyle which qualified her for the championship finals (top 8). At finals, she went a couple of seconds faster to swim a 2:25.48 and finished in 8th place. Kellam went on to have a great meet swim her fastest times in virtually every event and finishing in the top 16 several times; 11th place in the 200 IM, 10th place in the 100 IM, 12th place in the 50 Freestyle and 24th place in the 50 Breaststroke.

Evan Apuron qualified for every event in the 10 and Under age group, but had to choose which six to swim at the meet. On his first morning of competition, he swam the 50-yard Butterfly and 100 Freestyle and qualified both for the championship finals (top 8). In the evening finals session, Apuron had some great races finishing 5th in the 50 Butterfly with a time of 31.56 seconds and 6th in the 100 Freestyle with a time of 1:05.18. During the Saturday morning preliminary session, he qualified for the consolation finals of the 50-yard Breaststroke. Later in the 50 Breaststroke Consolation Finals, he was able to beat the field and earn 9th place. During Sunday preliminaries, he qualified for championship finals in all three of his events; 100 IM, 100 Fly, and 50 Free. Apuron started the evening with a 5th place finish in the 100 IM (1:13.68) followed by third place finish in the 100 Butterfly with a time of 1:10.41 to earn a spot on the podium to receive a medal. Apuron went on to finish the evening with an 8th place finish in the 50 Freestyle with a time of 30.22. Coach Gort summarized Apuron’s performance at the meet, “Evan qualified for the championship finals in five out of the six events he swam and finished 9th in the 6th event. He had tremendous improvements in his times – what a great meet for Evan!”

The Sea Lion Swim Team practices in San Manuel when the water is warm enough, and in Oro Valley during the rest of the year. Registration for the summer swim team in San Manuel will begin in a couple of weeks. Please contact Alex Gort for more information at 896-2190.

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There are news or informational items frequently written by staff or submitted to the Copper Basin News, San Manuel Miner, Superior Sun, Pinal Nugget or Oracle Towne Crier for inclusion in our print or digital products. These items are not credited with an author.

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