Last week, swimmers from the Los Banos Tiger Sharks were preparing for sprints. This week they trained for longer-distance swims.
A week after the Tiger Sharks placed second at the Dos Palos Invitational, which features mostly 25-yard sprint races, most teams from the Merced County Swim League will descend upon Firebaugh for the distance-centered Firebaugh Invitational.
“You prepare totally different for a meet like that,” Los Banos coach Drew Guintini said. “All last week we were working on starts and finishes, getting up to speed quick, regulating your breathing. Whereas this week you’re working more on your turns.”
The Firebaugh meet won’t be as focused on distance as in the past, though, since the event removed the 500-yard freestyle event due to time and lighting concerns.
Four Los Banos swimmers earned high-point at the Dos Palos meet – Irene Duke in the 15-16-year-old girls division, Gannon Lemos in 7-8-year-old boys, Brooklyn Gallagher in 7-8-year-old girls and Sammy Ceja in 6-and-under girls.
Three of those swimmers set meet records – Duke in the 100-yard individual medley (1:09.09) and 25-yard butterfly (13.15), Gallagher in the 100-yard individual medley (1:37.01) and 25-yard freestyle (15.94) and Lemos in the 25-yard butterfly (18.62).
“A lot of our kids have come a long way. There’s some really good young, talented swimmers coming around,” Guintini said. “I hope they stick with it, because they will build Pacheco and Los Banos’ swims teams down the road.
“Irene was chasing those two records all day long. Anthony Machado came close in the breaststroke, he was just a little short. But he won that race.”
Although the Firebaugh meet will feature every team from the league, it may not exactly be a preview of the league championships.
“Depth-wise, we’re not taking as big of a team as we usually do,” Guintini said. “Kids only have to participate in four meets to compete in the championship, and this is a hot one, so a lot of them take this one off. There are the ones that are die-hard and go to every meet, and there are those that only swim their four. It is a long season, and people want to be able to do something else in the summer, too.”
Hilmar, which won the Dos Palos meet, is the defending league champion.
“Dos Palos had a good meet, too. They have some really great swimmers,” Guintini said. “It’s a very competitive league now, and it’s good. For a long time it was all Los Banos, and it’s starting to become a very even league, and that will make our swimmers better.”