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August 7, 2007 > Mission Valley Barracudas reign as EBSL Champions

Mission Valley Barracudas reign as EBSL Champions

By Praveena Raman and Mekala Raman

On Saturday July 28, 1200 swimmers and their families trooped into Chabot College for the East Bay Championship Meet wondering who would be the Champions. This year was different from the previous years; no single team was extremely strong and could be predicted as the winner. Even a dual meet the previous week between the two division champions had been an extremely close one with only a 32 point margin. However by the end of the day, the Cudas emerged once again as champions for the seventh consecutive year with 4, 677 points, a 265 point lead over the League runners-up San Leandro's Drowning Darryls .

By 6 a.m., the colorful East Bay Swim League tent village was set up on the tennis courts of Chabot College, "home for the day" for more than 3000 people from all over the East Bay. By 7 a.m., swimmers were in the newly remodeled swimming pool for a good warm up. Team cheers with balloons sailing into the sky took place at 8:25 a.m. and the meet began with great excitement at 8:30 a.m. This was also the beginning of a long, tiring day for parents as they pitched in to run the meet, attempting to keep the children quiet so that their energy could be spent productively in the water. For many families, the day had wonderful social moments, meeting friends from different teams and spending time with them. Linda Campana, a teacher at Mission High School in Fremont and a parent on the Mission Highland team says, "championships are the best day of my summer as I see students and friends from the entire Fremont area. The best part is that the swimmers are focused on striving for their best time and not on winning the race." As she uttered this, a group of 15-18 year old swimmers gave her affectionate hugs as they went to swim their event.

The twelve teams also exhibit great humor besides a spirit of sportsmanship. Coaches dress up in different costumes at the beginning of the day and swimmers and families wear humorous t-shirts with different slogans. Some that really caught the eye were Drowning Darryls Lifeguard T-shirts sporting "Rescue Darryl," the Kennedy Seals slogan, "Follow us to the Wall", bright orange Treeview t-shirts and the red Cuda T-shirt that claimed "We Fear Nothing" in bold letters.

At the end of the Medley relays (the first event of the meet), the San Leandro Drowning Darryls took the lead while last year's champion Fremont's Cudas placed fourth in the standings. This amazed many but not the swimmers. Nonchalantly, the swimmers went about their day concentrating on how to beat their own times and swim their best. Paula Doherty from the Warm Springs Gators exclaimed "After six years of coming to these meets I am still always surprised at how well these young swimmers exceed their goals and outperform their own expectations. How do they do it?"

By the middle of the day the competition was very stiff. The teams had all improved tremendously and individual heats were extremely close, exciting ones. This was echoed by Ben Liu, Steven Chi, Issac Butterfield and Karthik Raman who were whiling away their time, playing cards between events. "The competition is more fierce this year and all the teams have improved a lot and are pretty impressive. We [Cudas] are not always first. It is certainly more exciting this way" they chimed together. This was also confirmed by Cuda Coach Don French. "There is a lot of parity this year between the teams and the win at the end is more rewarding."

For many of the swimmers it was all about their personal best and improving their own times; for some it was about exceeding their personal best and placing first in their heat and for others, it was setting a goal of breaking league records. The free relays at the end of the meet were the most exciting for participants and spectators as teams set out to achieve their dreams. The Southgate Penguins 11-12 boys free relay team, consisting of Matthew Giles, Hudson Davis, Benjamin and Christopher Jackson won the gold and broke the league record by 0.96 seconds.

Two other teams in the 15-18 women and men's free relay race won the gold but just missed breaking the EBSL League Records. Hannah Imhof, Annie, Hannah Scobel and Raha Sadjadi of the Barracudas had a very exciting race with a magnificent finish. They beat their team record by 3 seconds but unfortunately fell just a little short of the established league record. Coach Joe Martinez beamed proudly. "They did very well and smashed the team record. Each of them swam their leg of the race perfectly and contributed to getting the lead." Swimmer Hannah Imhof, basking in the sweet moment of success said, "I was really excited trying to get the gold and break the league record. I am happy we got the gold but a little disappointed in not breaking the record." The Treeview men, Andy latour, Justin Cox, Morgan Stickney and Robert Mobley ended the entire day with a bang. Their team swam magnificently and won the gold for the third year in a row.

As participants waited for announcements of the results, they reflected on the day's events. Many parents were impressed that the meet was so well run that it ended much earlier than usual. Meet directors Diana Souza and Bruce Garrett, in their second season in this position, had many more challenges to overcome this year with the Chabot reconstruction project. They worked hard at overcoming these with their parent volunteer team and also tried a new format for the meet which proved beneficial as the last race ending at 4 p.m. "We are thankful to all of those who worked with us at Chabot and who worked to keep this project on schedule ...Though we did have our hiccups, the day was another success and hopefully enjoyed by all" mentions Diana Souza.

In the final score, Mission Valley Barracudas led with 4,677 points, San Leandro Drowning Darryls came second (4,412) followed by Glenmoor Stingrays (3,737), Newark Bluefins (3,358.50), Chabot Marlins (3,225.50), Warm Springs Gators (3071.50), Washington Manor Dolphins(2,659), Mission Highlands Sharks (2,504.50), Southgate Penguins (2205.50), Treeview Dolphins (2090), Kennedy Seals (1955.5) and Columbia Crocodiles(1,354). Setting new league records in the individual events were Heather Blakeley for backstroke and Hillary Vance for Butterfly. Jeanette Low was the runner-up for both the above events and received an Honorable Mention.

If you would like to join one of the swim teams in the EBSL for the 2008 season visit http://www2.inow.com/~wag/southgate/ebsl/ebsl.htm to get the contact information for the various teams. Membership for many of the teams start in March of 2008.

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