During Saturday's Los Banos Spring Invitational, LB swim coach Drew Guintini was looking for some of his swimmers on the verge of success to show him something.
And a few of them did -- Jerome Vander Poel hit a couple of personal-best times, and Kyren DiMarzio made his section-qualifying time of 56.31 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly. The frosh-soph 400-yard freestyle relay team also made its section time.
But Guintini also knew not to have high expectations coming into the meet for a variety of reasons.
"We trained real hard going into that meet," Guintini said. "I'm hoping this weekend when we go to Johansen we'll do better. We missed couple of days of practice this week because of the pool.
"I had a feeling we would be kind of beat up. I really put the grind to them."
With Merced's depth and the quality of its top swimmers, the Bears took the meet's championship for the third time with 372 combined points. As in the last two years, Los Banos came in at a distant second with 196, and Chowchilla placed third with 116.
"Merced, they've got such a deep team, they have really good swimmers," Guintini said. "It's fun to swim against them. They bring out the best in us. We'll see them again this weekend, kind of a last meet before league finals. They're deep and dominant."
Pacheco sprinter Sakura Sen took the meet as an opportunity to set a personal best in the 50-yard freestyle with a 26.10-second race, beating her old time of 26.48. Sakura was one of three local individual winners -- the other two were LB's DiMarzio in the butterfly, and LB's Alex Marquez in the girls 200-yard freestyle (2:16.72).
Los Banos hosts Patterson in a dual meet tonight, the team's senior night, before heading to the Stanislaus Invitational Saturday at Johansen High in Modesto. Pacheco hosts Livingston on Monday.