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August 3, 2004 > EBSL: History is Made!

EBSL: History is Made!

Mission Valley Barracudas League Champions Fourth Straight Year

by Praveena Raman

It was cool, quiet and peaceful in the wee hours on Saturday, July 31st. There was only sparse traffic on the freeways with faint pre-dawn movement in the neighborhoods. In contrast, the Chabot College campus in Hayward was bustling with activity in preparation for the East Bay Swim League Championship meet. The air was filled with anticipation and excitement as 1200 swimmers from twelve different teams with their families streamed into Chabot's parking lot.

Colorful tents were erected on the basketball courts and the upper deck of the swimming pool. Barbeques were set up near the tents and chairs and sleeping bags occupied the space inside. Swimmers ranging in age from 5 years to 18 years, clad in colored swim robes protecting them from the cool morning air, were bustling about, taking turns doing warm up laps, getting ready for an intense day of swimming. This was the start to the end of the East Bay Swim League's 2004 summer season.

At 8:15 a.m., all twelve teams paraded onto the upper deck shouting their team cheers and releasing colorful balloons into the air. At 8:28 a.m. 11 year old Karthik Raman from the Barracudas had the honor of singing the National Anthem and officially starting the championship meet to the cheers of the 3000 people gathered to watch the competition. Captain Robert Nelson of the Fremont Police Department, whose children swim for the Mission Highlands and who coaches basketball, baseball and soccer gives Karthik a high five. "I am so proud to see Karthik whom I have coached since he was 5 years old in baseball and soccer singing so well. It is wonderful to see the little kids progress at all levels in this family sport. This is a celebration of family." The Barracudas then went on to win the League championship award (determined only by the points earned at the championship meet) for the fourth year in a row, a milestone achieved for the first time by any team in the 28-year history of the League.

The meet started with the medley relays. Chabot's Olympic size pool was divided into 20 lanes, 10 lanes at each end of the pool. The individual events were swum through the day at both ends of the pool, the 10 and under age groups swimming 25 yards at the shallow end of the pool and the 11 and older age groups swimming 50 yards at the deeper end of the pool. At the end of the medley relay, the Barracudas had won 6 gold medals out of 10 with the 11-12 boys relay team breaking a league record set in 1997. Morgan Stickney of Treeview and his teammates Andrew Latour, Justin Cox and Sean Collopy were thrilled to have won the silver medal for the 13-14 boys medley relay. Morgan smiles "It is very exciting. I have made a lot of friends from other teams in the 8 years I have been coming to Championships. It is healthy competition and we get to shake hands with our opponents." His mother Marion Severy agrees. "It is wonderful to watch the whole team swim. Morgan has been able to make great friends. Also they not only compete with other teams but also compete with their teammates."

The largest and lengthiest events of the day are the Free-style and Backstroke events with some age groups having 11-13 heats with 10 swimmers in each heat. Janet Perry, the mom in charge this year had everything under control and with her gang of volunteers, streamlined the swimmers and got the meet going without any delays. These volunteers as well as the countless others, some of whom have been working on this meet for more than a month, exemplify the dedication shown by the swimmers and their families towards this sport.

Suzanne Kentris a parent of the Chabot Marlins team, who was working as security person near the swimming deck laughs "This is good controlled insanity. It is a long but wonderful day, a nice way to end the season. My daughter has improved so much this year it has been wonderful." Meet directors Peggy Herndon and Jerry Engler who were in charge of this gigantic event mentioned that it takes about three months of planning to pull this entire event without a hitch. In their fourth year as co-chairs they really enjoy seeing all the swimmers compete.

As the day progressed, Mission Valley retained its lead position while various teams jostled for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th positions. League president Tom Miller points out "It is very competitive especially for the teams in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place. Mission Valley is dominating again throughout all the age groups both men and women. Many league records are being broken and personal bests achieved." Runners-up San Leandro was actually trailing in 5th place before noon. Coach Bill Kriskovich smiles "I knew we were weak in the medley relays but knew that we would catch up later on. We don't just focus on winning but actually focus on improving and that is one area we need to strengthen." Bill has had a very interesting relationship with the San Leandro team and with the league. He used to be a swimmer in the San Leandro team and had also been their coach on and off through the years during which time their team had been the league champions. Last year he coached the Barracudas and decided to return to his alma mater team this year. "It was not easy coaching the cudas." He says "being a teacher at Hopkins I was coaching my students and they found it strange. It is a different relationship between a teacher and a student and between a coach and a swimmer. It was wonderful getting to know the parents as I live in Fremont but it is easier coaching the Drowning Darryls."

Coach Mark Lawrence of the Barracudas is having a different experience. "Coaching swimming at Mission High School and then coaching the Mission valley swim team has been great especially as this is my first year. It has given me extended time with the kids and I have had the opportunity to get to know their parents a little better." Coach Gene Kendall who used to swim for the Warm Spring Gators and has broken league records in his time says "As a swimmer I did not see everything as I was more focused on my races. As a coach I am able to see all the races and empathize with the swimmers who don't meet their goals and don't have a good day. I have had those days myself. It is awesome to see the energy and hard work put forth in the meet."

The Championship meet ended at five in the evening. The swimmers and their families cleared the deck waiting for the award ceremonies. The Barracuda team waited excitedly knowing that they have made history. Ten year-old Laura Conn exclaimed "This is so exciting. The team has made a new League record, winning the Championship for the fourth year in a row." Her team mates Hannnah Imhof, Alisa Tanakit, Juliana McCuaig all vigorously agreed. Claudia Chee, a first timer at the championships, hanging out with veteran Katie Thompson says "There is a lot of spirit here with all the people cheering hard. It is exciting." Katie agrees "It is a long day but I have made a lot of friends and that is fun."

EBSL Championship Results:

TEAMS: First Place - Mission Valley Barracudas - 5,643 points; Second Place - San Leandro Drowning Darryls - 4,191 points; Third Place - Warm Springs Gators - 3,273.50 points; Fourth Place - Washington Manor Dolphins - 3,159.50 points; Fifth Place - Mission Highlands Sharks - 3,072.50 points; Sixth Place - Glenmoor Stingrays - 3,023 points; Seventh Place - Treeview Dolphins - 2,731 points; Eighth Place - Newark Blue Fins - 2,214 points; Ninth Place - Columbia Crocodiles- 2,189.50 points; Tenth Place - Southgate Penguins - 2,144 points; Eleventh Place - Kennedy Seals - 2,036.50 points; Twelfth Place - Chabot Marlins - 1,650 points.

TEAM Awards: League Champions - Misison Valley Barracudas; League Runners Up - San Leandro Drowning Darryls; Team Heat Winner - San Leandro Drowning Darryls; Most Improved Team - Columbia Crocodiles - improved by 230 points; Team Spirit Award - Southern Division - Mission Highlands Sharks; Northern Division - Treeview Dolphins.

Individual League Records :
Lisa Bender (San Leandro) - girls 13-14 age group - 50 free (25.18); 50 Breast (31.82); 50 IM (1:04:02)

Drew Wenzel (Mission Highlands) - Boys 15-18 age group - 50 free (22.02); 50 Fly(24.20)

Kyle Quock, George Chen, Ryan Tanakit and Craig Perry - Mission Valley - 11-12 Boys Medley "A" relay Team (2:08:81).

 
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