The SCVAL De Anza Division swim season is under way, with the Gunn boys and Palo Alto girls showing early signs of being contenders for dual- and league-meet honors.
The Gunn boys flexed their muscles in a 122-63 victory over visiting Palo Alto on Thursday to open the division season, while the Paly girls did the same (at the expense of Gunn) with a 125-61 triumph. Rarely are the winning margins for either school so decisive.
"This team would beat any other team I've coached at Gunn," head coach Mark Hernandez said of his boys team, which beat Paly for the first time since 2002. "We have some career swimmers who have improved a lot in the last year, some young ones who will only get better, and some polo players who are used to winning and love speed."
Gunn sophomore Michael Lincoln was among the numerous standouts for the Titans as he won the 200 free in 1:43.48, took second in the 500 free in 4:42.38 and anchored the 200 free and 400 free relay teams to winning times of 1:29.66 and 3:15.53, respectively. His 200 free time was faster than the 1:44.44 he clocked while finishing 14th at the CCS Championships last year.
"Yeah, Michael Lincoln was something else," Hernandez said. "He also split a 47.7 in the (400 free) relay -- faster than he went at CCS last year."
Gunn returns every key relay member from last season and that showed as the Titans swept all three relays against Palo Alto. Trent Tosky, Luke Chui, Daichi Matsuda, Joao Ama, Christian Znidarsic and Lincoln all contributed to the relay wins. The 400 free time was among the fastest in CCS this season and sizzling for this time of year.
Matsuda sped to victories in the 200 IM (a school record of 1:54.41) and 500 free (4:40.66), Ama won the 50 free (22.91) and 100 free (48.74) and Tosky swept the 100 fly (52.77) and 100 back (54.70). For perhaps the first time ever against Paly, Gunn won every swim event. Reed Merritt's win in diving was the Vikings' lone triumph.
As good as the Gunn boys, so were the Palo Alto girls. Aside from Gunn senior Jennifer Campbell winning her specialties -- 200 free (1:50.54) and 500 free (4:58.81) -- Paly swept the remaining events with its young and talented squad.
Sophomore Grace Zhao led the way by taking the 50 free in a swift 23.99 and winning the 100 breast -- making for an unusual double -- in an even-faster 1:04.47 for an All-American consideration time. She also led off the winning 200 free relay (1:40.04) and 400 free relay (3:41.32).
The Paly relay teams were made up of just freshmen and sophomores.
The Palo Alto boys, meanwhile, reportedly have lost a trio of talented athletes in Alex Liang, Andrew Cho and Daniel Sing. According to Paly coach Danny Dye, the three have decided to train full-time with their club team -- Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics -- while setting their sights on making their cuts for the 2016 U.S. Swimming Trials.
In PAL Bay Division openers, host Menlo-Atherton splashed to victories over Sequoia. The boys won, 106.5-63.6 and the girls took a 111-46 triumph.
M-A's Faith Dunn celebrated her 16th birthday by earning CCS cuts while winning the 200 IM (2:15.41) and 100 breast (1:10.46). The Bears' 200 free relay team won in 1:44.52 for a CCS cut, as well. In addition to Dunn, Maddie Worden won the 50 free (26.63) and 100 back (1:07.52) to help lead the Bears to victory.
In the boys' meet, M-A's Zach Goland won the 200 free with a CCS cut of 1:49.58. He also won the 100 breast in 1:04.69 and swam on the winning 200 medley (1:46.68) and 200 free (1:35.62) relays.
Sequoia got a victory from freshman Connor Holden in the 100 back (1:03.33). Holden's father, Eric, was a freshman swimmer for former M-A head coach Rick Longyear in 1983, Longyear's first season of coaching.