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SWIMMING: Records Galore Fall at PAL Bay Finals

Woodside's Grima shatters another league mark in girls competition, and Aragon's Oto wins 50 and 100 free; M-A boys roll to fifth straight title behind double winners Masuda and Henze.

Just wait until Burlingame High swimming standout Naomi Thomas is at full strength. Despite still recovering from a bout with pneumonia, the junior enjoyed a sensational day at the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division championships at Burlingame on Saturday afternoon – setting a meet record in the 100-yard butterfly and swimming a leg on two Panther relays that established new league marks.

Thomas, who was diagnosed with the illness less than two weeks ago, intended to play it safe and save her energy for the Central Coast Section championships, which begin on Friday at the Santa Clara International Swim Center. But once the junior hit the water, she couldn’t help herself.

Thomas kicked off the league finals – in which records galore fell for the second straight year – by swimming the butterfly leg of Burlingame’s 200-yard medley relay, which won by a whopping eight seconds and set a meet record in 1 minute, 49.07 seconds. She later took more than half a second off the PAL Bay 100 butterfly mark she set as a sophomore, winning in 55.22.

Thomas also broke the league’s 200 individual medley record with her second-place finish behind Woodside star Alicia Grima, and she opened the Panthers’ record-setting 400 freestyle relay.

“I was struggling (beforehand). I was thinking I would take PALs easy so CCS would be great. But I just went for it today,” Thomas said. “If I had cruised today … I mean I think I got two (personal) best times today, so that’s confidence for CCS.”

The Burlingame girls team also received outstanding days from junior Kristen Brennand and freshman Leah Goldman in topping defending champion Menlo-Atherton for the team title with 466 points.

Brennand won the 200 freestyle (1:54.99) and Goldman took the 100 backstroke (58.90) – both victories came by over four seconds – and they swam on both of the Panthers’ winning relays. Brennand was second to Thomas in the 100 butterfly in 58.42.

The M-A girls team finished second with 403 points, and was followed by Sequoia (311), Aragon (299) and Mills (212).

In the boys competition, Menlo-Atherton (461 points) dominated in claiming its fifth straight team championship. Burlingame (343) was a distant second, Carlmont and Terra Nova tied for third (267), and Aragon (261) took fifth.

M-A seniors Kei Masuda and Nick Henze both won a pair of individual events, and they joined Max Wilder and Evan Navarro in the winning 400 freestyle relay team (3:13.17) that beat the previous meet record by more than two seconds.

Masuda, who will swim at Harvard, broke the PAL Bay mark by taking the 100 butterfly (51.80) and he defended his title in the 200 IM (1:57.56).

Henze was excited to win the 200 freestyle (1:43.05). The Boston College-bound senior said he got renewed determination last spring after taking second to Burlingame’s Wyatt Butler, a 2010 graduate, for the second year in a row.

“Right after then, I set the goal to be a double winner,” said Henze, who also defended his title in the 100 freestyle in 47.18 and set personal records in both events. “So I was pretty stoked it was able to happen.”

Woodside’s Grima enjoyed the latest eye-opening performance in what has been a masterful prep career. A year after obliterating the PAL Bay record in the 500 freestyle and establishing a new league mark in the 100 backstroke, the junior shattered a five-year-old record in the 200 IM by nearly four seconds by winning in 2:02.56. Burlingame’s Thomas was second in 2:06.13.

Grima also defended her 500 freestyle title in 4:56.81.

Aragon’s Miya Oto was the other double winner among the girls – defending her 2010 championship in the 50 freestyle in 25.28 and taking the 100 freestyle in 55.03. The senior said got some extra motivation once Woodside’s Emma Adams qualified first in the 50.

“It got me a little worried,” Oto said. “I knew I just had to step it up more, so I’m glad.”

Adams (25.79) finished third, just behind Carlmont’s Lauren Jung (25.75).

Carlmont junior Jason Wong, who won the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.67, was already thinking about how the level of competition will rise considerably at the CCS preliminaries.

“It’s definitely a challenge to swim with these big guys,” said Wong, who wants to drop under 1:00 and qualify for the section finals. “I obviously want to keep up with them and see what I can do with them. I like the challenge.”

Wong joined Jordan Tang, Ivan Garin and Vlad Khrolov in the Scots’ 200 medley relay team that beat M-A by over a second to establish a new PAL Bay mark at 1:40.51. Khrolov, a senior, later won the 50 freestyle in 22.37.

The Burlingame boys team was led by sophomore Kawei Tan, who set a meet record by winning the 100 backstroke in 52.92. Carlmont’s Garin, another sophomore, finished second (56.12). Garin was also the runner-up in 100 butterfly (54.07).

Terra Nova sophomore Bryant Jacobs won the 500 freestyle in 4:50.77. As a freshman, Jacobs won the 200 IM and swam on two winning relays at the PAL Ocean Division championships.

Sequoia’s Megan Beach defended her league title in the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.86, finishing slightly in front of teammate Lilly Nelson (1:06.08). Beach was second to Grima in the 500 freestyle (5:06.07).

In the girls 200 freestyle relay, Woodside beat M-A by seven-hundredths of a second to defend its championship in 1:44.60. Lauren Arshakuni and Natasha Kafai joined Adams and Grima on that team for the second straight year. Arshakuni was also second in the backstroke (1:03.85).

Junior Madison Gebhard swam the breaststroke leg of Burlingame’s 200 medley relay, and freshman Marie Maxwell took the third leg for the Panthers’ 400 freestyle relay (3:36.83). Maxwell also finished second to teammate Brennand in the 200 freestyle (1:59.38).

M-A’s Alex Gow and Graham McClelland joined Wilder and Navarro to make up the team that won the boys 200 freestyle relay in 1:29.68. Navarro was also second behind teammate Henze in the 200 freestyle in 1:44.39. And Wilder was runner-up in the 50 free (22.52).

Mills’ top finisher on the day was senior Steven Smith, who took second in the 100 breaststroke in 1:01.19

Burlingame’s Tan was second in the 200 IM (2:00.04).

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To see Patch's coverage of the PAL Ocean Division championships, click . San Mateo junior Ronald Chen collected his second and third PAL Ocean records. El Camino's Rachel Lam and Danica Alfajora were both double winners, and they helped the Colts defend their girls team title. Westmoor won the boys division.

Vanessa Castañeda May 16, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Rock on M-A boys! 5th championship in a row. And talk about some awesome action shots.
Camden Swita May 16, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Who's the only swimmer to win a championship in the PAL Bay and Ocean the last two years? Terra Nova sophomore Bryant Jacobs. Go Tigers!
Stacie Chan May 16, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Way to go Alicia! After shattering the 200 IM record by nearly 4 seconds, she now holds records in 3 of 8 events. And the Woodside student is only a junior! Can't wait till she performs again.

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