During the month of February, the Sea Lions Swim Team competed in four different swim meets around the State. This is the time of year that Junior Olympics and State Championship Meets are held. To earn a spot at these meets, swimmers must achieve qualifying times at USA sanctioned swim meets in advance of the championship meets.
Over the first two weekends in February, several Sea Lions swimmers attended the Last Chance Meet in Sahuarita on Feb. 3 and the Sweet Heart Meet at the Forty-niner County Club in Tucson on Feb. 10. Sea Lions Swimmers achieved a total of 39 personal best times at the two meets, including seven Junior Olympic Qualifying times. Ethan Kellam (12) qualified the 100 IM, Mia Dale (12) qualified the 100 IM and 50 Butterfly, and Andres Valenzuela (16) qualified the 400 IM, 50 Freestyle, 500 Freestyle and 1000 Freestyle.
During the weekend on Feb. 16-19, the Sea Lions participated in the Lost Dutchman Swim Meet at Chandler High School. This meet has very tough time standards to enter and is one of the largest swim meets in Arizona, attracting over 1,000 swimmers from Arizona, California, New Mexico and Colorado. Sea Lions swimmers had an outstanding meet, achieving 52 personal best times in the grueling four-day event with prelims in the mornings and finals in the evenings. AJ Lopez (14) swam fast enough to qualify for the State Championship Meet in five events (100 Backstroke, 100 Breaststroke, 100 Butterfly, 200 IM, 50 Free). Mason Stewart qualified in the 100 IM. Riley Stewart (14) earned a Silver Medal in the 50 Breaststroke. Evan Apuron (14) earned 6 Silver Medals (50, 100, 200 Butterfly, 100, 200 Breaststroke, 100 Freestyle) and earned the 3rd place High Point Award. Evan also achieved his first Sectional Qualifying Time in the 200 Butterfly swimming a time of 1:59.96. Sectionals are the Championship Level that represents one quarter of the United States (Arizona is in the West Sectional for USA Swimming).
The following weekend of Feb. 23-25, 10 Sea Lions attended the Junior Olympics at Cactus Pool in Scottsdale. Swimmers won seven events and achieved seven State Qualifying times at the meet while achieving a total of 35 personal best times. Ethan Kellam won the 1650 Freestyle in a State Qualifying time of 22:08.38. Ben Fister (12) won both the 200 Butterfly and the 100 IM, finished 2nd in the 200 Backstroke and 200 IM, and finished 3rd in the 1000 Freestyle. Mason Stewart finished 2nd in the 100 Breaststroke with a time of 1:24.69 – fast enough to qualify for State. AJ Lopez had the meet of his life winning five out of the six events he swam earning state times in all of them. AJ won the 1000 Freestyle (11:20.71), 100 Freestyle (55.02), 200 Butterfly (2:21.74), 200 Backstroke (2:19.06) and 200 Breaststroke (2:36.16).
After a very successful February, the Sea Lions looking forward to March with many swimmers scheduled to compete in the State Championship Meets over the next few weeks.
The Sea Lions Swim Team practices in Oro Valley during November – March while the water is too cold to hold practice in San Manuel or Mammoth. Anyone interested in more information on the Sea Lions can contact Alex Gort (896-2190) or check the team website, sealionsswimteam.com.