PASADENA — Though the La Cañada High boys’ swimming team characterized its most recent Rio Hondo League dual meet season as disappointing, Friday afternoon’s league finals were just the opposite.
With seniors Garrett Chin and Peter Loakes and junior Dane Bell grabbing two individual wins apiece, the Spartans won seven of 11 events at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.
PHOTOS: Rio Hondo League swimming championships
“Lots of league titles, lots of … records, so we did well today,” said Spartans Coach Art Lopez, whose squad went 3-2 in league for third place. “We’re looking great going into CIF next week.”
It was also a successful day at the pool on the girls’ side, with senior Samantha Campbell winning a pair of league titles and swimming a leg in a victorious relay, as the Spartans had four league titles in all.
“It was a really successful day,” Campbell said. “The relays were my favorite, because we all got together and did well. ... Definitely pumped us up for CIF.”
Campbell brought home victories in the 100-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke, while leading off the first-place 200 freestyle relay (1 minute 41.45 seconds), which included sophomore Shelby Hopkins, freshman Katrine Madsen and junior Rachel Wong. Wong dominated in the 200 individual medley, winning in 2:08.99, nearly four seconds ahead of the runner-up to claim a league medal, as well.
“It went great. I’m very happy, we had a lot of really good times,” said Spartans girls’ Coach Renata Martinez, whose team went 4-1 in league for second place. “[Campbell] did great. She’s a big help for the relay girls.”
Campbell won the 100 freestyle with a mark of 52.31, leading from start to finish.
In the backstroke, Campbell rallied to overtake South Pasadena’s Kate Iio (1:00.65), surging ahead in the final 25 yards for the title in 59.89.
Her victory in the backstroke was her last Rio Hondo League swim, thereby concluding a successful run for her and the Campbell clan, as she’s the younger sister of Katy Campbell, a former multiple-time Rio Hondo and CIF champion, as well as an All-Area Girls’ Swimmer of the Year and Valley Sun Female Athlete of the Year.
“Definitely a lot of lasts happened this year,” Samantha Campbell said. “It’s been kind of a little bittersweet this year. It’s definitely been a roller coaster ride of a senior year.”
Chin swam to victory in the 200 individual medley in a Rio Hondo League record of 1:57.27 and came up just short of another record in the 100 backstroke, winning in 51.06 by more than a two-second margin, but behind La Cañada alum Bo Mattix’s record of 50.89.
“I definitely had my sights set on them,” said Chin of the records. “The 100 back, I thought I could get it, I thought I had it, but I was a little off.
“One out of two, I’m happy with that.”
Bell came in expecting to win in the 200 free and 500 free, as he’d done throughout league, but left a bit disappointed after coming painfully short of breaking the league record in the 500.
“I’m happy that I swam fast, but I don’t believe I swam fast enough,” said Bell, who won the 200 in 1:46.88 and the 500 in 4:35.34, just shy of the 2009 league record of San Marino’s Scott Farley of 4:34.78. “That was less than awesome.”
Bell won the 500 by more than 12 seconds.
“I was hoping I’d go faster today, but I know I’ll go faster at CIF,” Bell said.
Loakes won the 50 free in 21.56, more than a second ahead of his nearest competitor, and followed it with a first-place swim of 48.42 in the 100 free.
Chin, junior Matt Varraveto, Loakes and Bell ended the afternoon with an exclamation point, swimming away with a near-three-second victory in the 400 free relay in 3:13.65.
The quartet of Bell, senior Shane Bell, Chin and Loakes also took second in the 200 medley relay in a CIF automatic-qualifying time of 1:36.83.
The meet also served notice that, while the La Cañada boys came up short in league dual meets, it certainly wasn’t for lack of talent.
“Definitely, we didn’t have the depth,” Chin said. “The other teams got [second and third place], that’s what got us.”
But now, talent at the top has the Spartans headed for CIF.
“I’m hoping that the boys step up,” Lopez said, “and do what they can do.”