By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
The titles went to the Palo Alto boys and Gunn girls at the 2013 SCVAL De Anza Division Swimming and Diving Championships on Friday at Palo Alto High.
The highlight reel, however, belonged to Paly junior Andrew Liang, who broke the oldest record in league history and took down a name of Olympic proportions.
Liang, a junior, won the boys' 100-yard fly in 47.88. That blew away the previous meet record of 49.10, set in 1967 by the legendary Mark Spitz. It was the oldest varsity record in league history. The time also was a Paly record and an automatic All-American qualifier.
Sacred Heart Prep grad Tom Kremer set the Central Coast Section record of 47.12 last year.
"It's just a good indication of the season, and of the work I've put in," Liang said of his historic time. "It just shows I'm at a good place right now with a week left in the season. It will be interesting to see what I can do at CCS."
While some youngsters on the pool deck had no idea who Mark Spitz is, Liang certainly did -- sort of.
"I know who Mark Spitz is," Liang said. "He's pretty old. I knew he was like one of those first superstars. He was like the Michael Phelps of his time. It's pretty neat. I'm definitely happy."
Liang earlier won the 50 free in school record of 20.59. He just missed the 1973 meet record of 20.50 by Santa Clara's Joe Bottom. Liang, however, no knowledge of that record or the one by Spitz until Paly coach Danny Dye informed him of the possible historical opportunities during lunch on Friday.
"It's history. It's tradition," Dye said of the old marks. I wanted him to realize that he could try and be a part of something special. I guess it was part motivation, but when you can say you're better than Mark Spitz, that's saying something.
"Now he's jazzed and he knows where he stands," Dye continued. "He's breaking records of guys who went to Indiana and broke NCAA records."
For those with short memories, Spitz had a pretty good Olympics in 1972 when he brought home seven gold medals.
Liang later added a 20.65 leadoff leg on Paly's 200 free relay that clocked 1:26.21 to break meet and school records and anchored the winning 400 free relay in a sizzling 44.58 that finished off a season best of 3:10.57 . That wrapped up the team title for Paly, which scored 491 points. Monta Vista was second with 390 and Gunn third with 320.
The Paly boys just had too much depth and top much top-end talent for the rest of the field. The Vikings led from the start and never let Monta Vista get closer than 14 points.
The Vikings won all three relays -- taking the opening 200 medley in 1:37.32 to get things rolling -- before getting a pair of wins from sophomore William Lee in the 200 IM (1:53.57) and 100 back (50.36), the latter race breaking his own meet and school records.
Lee also swam on the winning 200 free and 400 free relay teams. Freshman Reed Merrit won the 1-meter diving on Tuesday with 504.70 point, missing the school record by less than one point.
Gunn was led by freshman Daichi Matsuda, who won the 500 free with a school record of 4:34.31. He also swam second to Liang's record-breaking 100 fly, clocking a 51.59 -- second-best in Gunn history.
Gunn's Tommy Tai broke his own school record in the 100 breast while finishing third in 58.91.
The Gunn girls, who tied with Monta Vista during the dual-meet season, needed only to beat the Matadors to claim their first-ever overall league championship. The Titans did just that by scoring 455 points. Palo Alto was second with 426 and Monta Vista third with 418.
"It's not as exciting (as a CCS title)," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez, who won the girls' section title last season, "but, this is more of a testament to the program. We got it done with our third and fourth swimmers . . . We lost five CCS scorers off last year's team."
Gunn was led by sophomore Jenna Campbell, who cruised to victories in the 200 free (1:50.92) and 500 free (4:59.00), winning by eight seconds and 20 seconds, respectively. Campbell also swam on the winning 200 medley relay (1:48.44) and the second-place 400 free squad (3:31.88).
Junior Gabrielle Bethke of Gunn clocked a season best of 23.94 to finish third in the 50 free and clocked another solid time of 52.38 to finish second in the 100 free. Senior Crystal Feri added a third place of 1:07.81 in the 100 breast and freshman Vivian Zhou was third in diving on Tuesday.
The Titans were tied with Paly at 372 following the 100 back, but outscored the Vikings by 49-24 in the next event -- the 100 breast -- to take a 421-396 lead into the final relay.
Palo Alto had a pair of victories, junior Jayna Wittenbrink taking the 100 fly in a season best of 56.42 and freshman Mimi Lin in diving with 462.20 points. Serena Yee was second in diving, with Molly Zebker third in both the 200 IM (2:09.24) and 100 fly (58.68). Paly also was third in the 200 free relay in 1:40.97.
For Palo Alto, its streak of 10 straight league meet titles came to an end. The Vikings had won 16 of the previous 18 championships. Gunn, meanwhile, ended its streak of finishing second three straight year.
Next up will be the CCS Championships on Friday and Saturday at the George F. Haines International Swim Center in Santa Clara. Action begins each day at 2:30 p.m.