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April 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, April 02, 2004

Spartan swimmers split Spartan swimmers split (April 02, 2004)

Women win while men lack entries against Saratoga

By Colleen Corcoran

After opening the season with a lackadaisical performance and a resultant loss to Homestead, Mountain View swimmers returned to face the Saratoga Falcons, determined to leave without regrets.

Despite the absence of Brooke Bishop, their top swimmer who was at a junior national competition, the Mountain View women had no reason to complain as they eked out a cool 92-87 victory, evening out their league record to 1-1 on March 26.

The men placed first in the majority of events but, lacking Saratoga's depth, lost 86-96, falling back to 0-2 in league play.

"I think you're going to find that we'll swim against teams like Palo Alto, and we may be faster than the fastest swimmers, but they'll get second, third, and fourth place and score more points than us," said Coach Ben Murray. "So our fastest swimmers are better than their fastest swimmers. But we just don't have enough fast swimmers. Our middle swimmers are not up to their level yet."

The varsity women sustained momentum throughout the meet that Saratoga was powerless to reverse. Junior Erica Lau's consistently quick turns made for long and speedy breakouts that gave her the edge in the 200-meter and 500-meter freestyle races.

"It was pretty good. I didn't do a best time, and I was a little off of what I wanted to go, but I did okay. ... I thought I could do better," said Lau, even after an easy victory in the 200-meter.

Coming off the block dangerously fast in the 500-meter, Lau maintained a tight lead through the first 250 meters. As her opponents slipped and scrambled to endure the second half, she pulled farther ahead, pushing power into the kick to finish first.

In the sprint freestyle events, Whitney Campbell claimed first place for the 50-meter and second for the 100-meter. Her kick was turbo; her form perfectly composed. Just ahead of Campbell in the 100-meter freestyle was Rebecca Koch -- a freshman and possibly the fastest Spartan behind the missing Bishop.

Tyler Landrith broke away from a long line of whitewater kicking clouds to establish himself as the superior freestyle machine for the boys in the 50-meter and 200-meter. While the 200 was a more conventional win, the 50 was a photo finish. Spinning and sputtering in a frenzied final 12 yards, Landrith and the Saratogan one lane over touched the wall together. The scoreboard recorded a tie for first.

Mountain View dominated the 100-meter butterfly as well. Koch placed first for the women while the Tice twins, Lindsey and Ginny, placed second and third. Fred Tran flew with focus on the men's side. He stole quick glances left and right during the third lap, scouting out the competition. Seeing that there was none, Tran swam the final lap of the 100 with a solid lead and without worries. He completed the 100-meter backstroke in a similar winning style.

A lineup of strong swimmers arrived for the final event of the meet -- the 400-meter freestyle relay.

Along with sophomore Janice Miyagi, Koch, Campbell and Lau formed an indomitable relay team that took both the 400-meter and 200-meter races. Miyagi swam a triple. She led off with the 200-meter freestyle relay, scored second in the 100-meter backstroke a few events later and returned with little rest to support a win in the 400-meter relay.

"It was fun. We kicked butt," said Koch of the relay's victories.

Tran, Brian Bishop, Landrith and Steven Quistad followed suit and claimed the 400-meter freestyle relay for the boys. Tran and Bishop established a quick start inches ahead of the Falcons in the next lane. To the bewilderment of many, the third leg of the Saratoga team stuttered at the block and left precious seconds late, trailing in Landrith's wake. Quistad then reinforced this lucky lead with a speedy first place finish.

"I think it went okay," said Tran. "I think I could have started my kick a little quicker. I think our order was very successful. ...We're stronger in the four by 100 free (than the 200-meter freestyle relay)."

Meanwhile, divers Kerry Quistad and Evan McDonald added more first-place points to the final score.

According to Coach Murray, the toughest competition is yet to come this season: "The teams I'm really worried about are Monta Vista, Palo Alto and Gunn."

By then, Brooke Bishop will be back. The men will be anxious to close the widening gap in their league record. And the Spartans will have more training behind them, helping to shave those infinitesimal but crucial increments off their final times.

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