Sports

PASA teams splash to titles at Speedo Junior Nationals

 

The men and women from Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics have won national swim titles before. But, the 2015 Speedo Short Course Junior Nationals (West) provided something new for PASA this past week in Austin, Texas.

Not only did the men and women accumulate the most points in their respective divisions, but the program also won the combined championship.

"We've done it before," PASA coach Tony Batis said of winning either the boys' or girls' titles. "But, I don't think we've ever swept. That's a first for us."

The PASA women totaled 355 points to edge Ozaukee Aquatics of Wisconsin, which finished with 348 points thanks to six individual titles from Stanford recruit Katie Drabot.

The PASA men finished with 502 points to hold off Nitro Swimming's 408. In the combined team standings, PASA swam away with the title after posting 857 points with Scottsdale Aquatic Club second with 552.

Drabot's six titles and relay legs gave her 137 points and high-point honors for the women. PASA's Grace Zhao from Palo Alto High was third with 65 and Izzi Henig of PASA and Castilleja tied for 20th with 34.

For the men, PASA's Jeremy Babinet tied for eighth with 51 points, teammate Joe Molinari was 10th with 50, Ben Ho finished 14th with 40 and Albert Gwo was 16th with 38 points.

Zhao and Babinet both set meet records in the 200-yard breaststroke, Zhao clocking 2:09.23 and Babinet a 1:55.91. Both came on the final day as PASA made a strong push for the titles.

"The last day the kids really put it together," said Batis. "We had kids in every race. It was great. That final session really came together . . . we didn't leave anything on the table."

The women's meet actually came down to the final race, the 400 free relay. Ozaukee won in 3:19.23, with Drabot anchoring, with PASA second in 3:21.10 with the team of Gabrielle Anderson, Chloe Isleta, Zhao and Henig. PASA's No. 2 relay team, however, actually clinched as the team of Brooke Schaffer, Zoe Lusk, Natalie Tuck and Claire Lin finished eighth in 3:25.09 while Ozaukee's No. 2 squad was 21st.

The PASA boys also finished strong and won their 400 free relay with Ho, Molinari, Alex Liang and Gwo clocking a fast 2:58.79.

In addition to Zhao and Babinet winning their 200 breast races, Paly's Liang won the men's 200 fly in 1:45.64.

Other top finishes includes Zhao's third place in the 50 free of 22.83, a race that saw Henig win the consolation title in 22.76. Gwo was second in the men's 50 free in 19.94.

Zhao splashed to a second place in the 100 breast in 1:00.65, a time that would have given her a section record had it been clocked at the CCS finals. Babinet also finished second in the men's 100 breast, a 53.85.

Henig grabbed a third in the women's 100 free in 49.28 with Gwo fourth in the men's 100 free in 44.24. Molinari finished fourth in the men's 200 IM in 1:47.62 and fourth in the 400 IM in 3:50.57.

The PASA women won the 200 medley relay with Isleta, Zhao, Henig and Brooke Schaffer clocking a meet record of 1:39.63. The men also won with Ho, Babinet, Molinari and Gwo swimming a meet record of 1:28.03.

In the 400 medley relay, the PASA women won in 3:38.07 with Isleta, Zhao, Anderson and Henig while the men finished first in a meet record of 3:13.37 with Hol, Babinet, Molinari and Gwo.

The PASA women also tied Ozaukee for first in the 200 free relay in 1:31.63.

PASA brought 27 swimmers to the junior nationals, one of two meets held on the same week. The other was held in the east.

Batis said it was probably the largest contingent PASA has brought to the meet.

"We've had a young group that has grown up in the program," he said. "We'll graduate a lot after this year."

In other swimming news, Stanford recruit Katie Ledecky became the first woman in history to break 9:00 in the 1,000-yard freestyle when she clocked 8:59.65 at the Nations Capital Invitational at the University of Maryland.

The time broke the previous American record of 9:10.77 by Katie Hoff in 2007 and gave Ledecky the 500, 1,000 and 1,650 U.S. records in short-course yards. She won the 200 free (1:41.04), 400 IM (4:01.69) and 500 free (4:28.17) during the first three days of the meet.

Ledecky would have been a freshman at Stanford this fall, but deferred her first year on The Farm in order to train for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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