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May 13, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, May 13, 2005

Eagles finish strong Eagles finish strong (May 13, 2005)

Girls, boys place 3rd, 4th in De Anza meet

By Scott Campbell

Everyone took notice of Los Altos at the De Anza Division Swimming Championships. That the Eagles were so visible began with their real estate and finished with their performance.

Los Altos staked out the ideal location at the Saratoga swimming complex - at the foot of the pool, next to the bleachers. As the only team situated so close to the action, the Eagles made sure to take advantage by energetically rooting on their teammates.

The Los Altos swimmers followed through with an eye-opening performance. In this seven-team meet loaded with talent, the Eagles girls emerged a remarkable third while the boys finished fourth.

"I'm ecstatic," said Los Altos coach Tim Dietrich. "As far as the team as a whole ... it's our best showing in recent history."

Dietrich reserved his highest praise for the girls, who finished at the bottom of the heap last season.

"To come from seventh to third is one heckuva turnaround," said Dietrich.

The girls opened the meet by placing third in the 200-yard medley relay. The Eagles team of sophomores Julia Fish and Caitlin Beyer and freshmen Carey Wong and Rachel Levin finished in 1:58.28.

In the individual events, Beyer took third in the 200-yard IM in 2:14.89 and placed sixth in the 100-yard butterfly. Wong finished fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke and eighth in the 100-yard butterfly. Fish placed sixth in the 500-yard freestyle and seventh in the 100-yard backstroke.

Meanwhile, in contrast to the young girls team, the Los Altos boys were led by seniors Michael Orton and Connor McColl.

Orton scored the individual highlight of the meet for the Eagles with his narrow victory in the 50-yard freestyle. Perhaps his unorthodox mental preparation was the difference.

"Everybody gets butterflies before they swim," said Orton, whose time of 22.52 beat Gunn's Nick Rouse by .02 seconds. "I just try to turn the butterflies into anger because the guy next to me thinks he can beat me."

Orton later atoned for his hiccup in the 100-yard freestyle preliminaries the previous day with a strong swim in the finals. He was seeded 15th, but posted the fifth fastest time with his 49.92 showing.

McColl raced neck-and-neck with Palo Alto's Edward Morrison through most of the 200-yard freestyle, but lost steam on the last leg and settled for second in 1:45.82.

The senior followed up by taking third in the 100-yard freestyle. McColl finished in 48.04, .58 behind Monta Vista's All-American candidate Russ Underwood, and .02 behind Morrison for second.

The powerful Los Altos sprinters helped the Eagles place second in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Junior Tyler Smith and senior Alex Cringle teamed with Orton and McColl to finish in 1:30.20, just ahead of Gunn and Palo Alto's teams, but behind Monta Vista's 1:29.32 showing.

"I think we did really well today," said McColl, who also posted a 47.30 anchor-leg split in the 400-yard freestyle relay. "Just across the board, everyone had really great times."

The Eagles' performance gives them a boost of confidence heading into the CCS Championships at Stanford this weekend.

After more than holding its own against some of the top programs in the section, Los Altos has designs on improving on its CCS performance from last season. The girls finished 19th in 2004, while the boys came in 21st.

"Our goal is to crack the top 10," said Dietrich.

But at least one Los Altos swimmer would leave the CCS possibilities for tomorrow. After all, McColl wanted to enjoy his last league meet for all it was worth.

"It's definitely been a great experience," McColl said of swimming for the Eagles. "I'm sad that it's coming to an end, but I'm glad that we've come so far."

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