Sea Lions compete in Yuma’s Polar Bear Plunge Meet

Mason Stewart  (8) Lane 7 , Rocky Andrade (8) lane 6..jpg

Mason Stewart (8) takes lane seven and Rocky Andrade (8) takes lane six. Jeanine Apuron


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Jasmine Smith, 12, competes. Jeanine Apuron

Over the weekend of Jan. 24-26, the Sea Lions Swim Team competed at the Polar Bear Plunge Swim Meet at the Valley Aquatic Center in Yuma. Ideal weather conditions and great competition brought out the best in the 17 Sea Lions Swimmers that attended the meet. The focus of the meet was for swimmers to achieve best times so team scores were not kept. Sea Lions did outstanding, posting a total of 109 personal best times at the three day meet.

Several Sea Lions swam events they have never done before. Rocky Andrade (8) and Ethan Kellam (7) both competed in the 500-yard Freestyle (20 lengths of the pool) and did very well finishing second and third respectively. Briana Castellanos (9) took on the challenge of the 200-yard Backstroke and went fast enough to come home with a seventh place ribbon. Riley Stewart (10) and Nate Fister (11) swam the 200-yard Breaststroke for the first time finishing first and 10th in their age groups. Evan Apuron (10) and Raquel Ortiz (13) attempted the toughest events in swimming for the first time, successfully completing both the 400-yard Individual Medley and the 1650-yard Freestyle. Jasmine Smith participated in her first USA Swim Meet and competed in five events.

With powerhouse teams present from throughout Arizona, it was a great accomplishment to win any event at the meet. The Sea Lions were able to come home with several wins. Rocky Andrade won three races (25 Fly, 50 Free, 25 Free), Tabitha Kellam (10) won three races (400 IM, 200 Free, 1650 Free), and Riley Stewart won the 200 Breaststroke. It was Evan Apuron who made a statement by winning all 12 races he was in (50 Free, 500 Free, 200 IM, 100 Fly, 400 IM, 100 Free, 100 Breast, 100 Back, 200 Back, 50 Breast, 100 IM, 1650 Free).

Two Sea Lions Swimmers qualified for more events for the Age Group State Championship Meet in March. Riley Stewart swam a 1:12.50 in the 100-yard Freestyle to qualify, and Gianna Sweeney (12) qualified the 50-yard Freestyle (28.51) and the 1650-yard Freestyle (21:28.90).

Coach Alex Gort was very happy with the way the swimmers did at the meet. “The 109 personal best times are a great achievement for any team, but truly remarkable for only 17 swimmers,” he said. “Hard work in practice always seems to pay off at the meets.”

The Sea Lions next meet is the Age Group Championship Meet in Oro Valley March 6-9. Ten Sea Lions swimmers are expected to swim in Relays or Individual events at the meet.

The Sea Lions practice in the Oro Valley Pool during the winter months and in the San Manuel Pool in the warmer months. Anyone wanting more information about the Sea Lions Swim Team can contact Alex Gort at 896-2190.

Mason Stewart 8.jpg

Mason Stewart, 8, competes. Jeanine Apuron


Rihanna Estrada 9.jpg

Rihanna Estrada, 9, swims. Jeanine Apuron

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