By Erica Waelty
For The Union Democrat
Kendall Boone, Kathryn Campbell, Ben Chesson, Rajah Foerstner, Dalton Hansten, Matt Scanlin, Samantha Slater and Alan Wells led their 43 teammates this past weekend at Tuolumne County Aquatics to a second-place finish in the 35th annual Age Group Open at Sonora Sports and Fitness Center.
TCA placed second in the three-day meet with 843 points to Ellis Aquatics, of Tracy, with 1,427. Lodi City Swim Club finished in third place with 362 points.
Ben Chesson, 9, Rajah Foerstner, 11, and Sammie Slater, 13, all earned the first- place high-point award in their age groups. Ben swam in 10 events throughout the weekend and improved in each swim. He began the meet with a 40-second improvement in his 500 freestyle (8:20.26). He continued to power through his freestyle events with an 18-second improvement in his 200 (3:09.87) and a 12-second personal record in his 100 (1:25.37).
Rajah, swimming 11 events, also showed strength in his freestyle events, dropping over 50 seconds in both his 500 freestyle (7:14.17) and 15 seconds in his 200 (2:42.27). He also excelled in his 200 IM (3:08.95) and 100 Butterfly (1:29.71). Sammie entered all 12 events, and earned best times in each race. Her most successful swims came in events where she was racing older atheletes, including the 500 freestyle (5:46.19), 400 IM (5:09.29), 200 backstroke (2:25.92) and 200 breaststroke (2:48.68)
Kendall Boone, 10, Kathryn Campbell, 12, and Alan Wells, 11, proved that hard work does pay off, finishing the weekend with outstanding meets, especially in their freestyle events. Boone’s shorter races were her strengths, dropping four seconds off a recent 50 freestyle time (44.13) and finishing sixth in the 100 freestyle (1:41.98).
Campbell and Wells had more success in their longer races. Campbell improved by over 30 seconds in both her 500 freestyle (8:06.67) and 200 freestyle (2:51.30). Wells dropped two minutes off last year’s 500 freestyle (7:57.42) and over 40 seconds off his 200 freestyle (3:04.82). All three swimmers earned new personal records in all of their races.
Dalton Hansten, 14, raced and earned personal records in 11 events throughout the event, showing the most improvement in his 200 breaststroke (2:53.11) and 500 freestyle (6:13.00).
Katherine Hohne, 16, and Carina Wedel, 17, also won first-place high-point awards for their age groups. Hohne finished first in her 500 free, 400 IM, 200 breaststroke and 200 butterfly. Wedel won the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
Other athletes that placed in the top three of their age groups include Matt Scanlin, 16, Mia Alomia, 6, and Siena Hapig-Ward, 17.
Kelsey Burr, 10, Megan Slater, 9, Teresa Woods, 16, and Trevor Mills, 13, swam full meets and excelled over the course of the meet. Kelsey had three events that really stood out —the 500 freestyle (7:14.87), 100 butterfly (1:42.20) and 100 freestyle (1:16.87).
Megan earned new Sierra Nevada time standards in her 200 freestyle (3:09.31) and 100 freestyle (1:30.21), while improving significantly in her 100 breaststroke (1:57.69) and 50 backstroke (46.69).
Teresa swam an impressive 200 IM (2:49.00), winning her heat and dropping eight seconds. She also impressed across the board in her breaststroke events. Trevor led the boys in his age group. He swam to a 20-second time improvement in his 200 freestyle (2:36.59) and a second-place finish in his 100 breaststroke (1:29.20).
The Houghton siblings proved that swimming fast is in their blood, dropping a combined six minutes over the course of two days. Levi, 12, led the group, taking 58 seconds off his 200 freestyle (2:44.30). Tess wasn’t far behind, with a 50-second personal record in her 500 freestyle (6:11.73). Marta also impressed in her 200 IM (2:40.24) and 200 backstroke (2:25.40).
Showing improvement and leadership for the older swimmers: Kiana Arnold, 17, raced well in her backstroke events and IM events, while Teri Wells, 19, showed strength in her distance events.
Also excelling amongst the younger swimmers were Sofia Alomia, 8, Troy Beebe, 12, Sydney Chesson, 7, Grace Nunnelley, 10, Hanna Nunnelley, 8, Britain Traub, 10, and Sofia Vazquez, 8. These athletes swam the entire three-day meet format, competing and achieving new personal records in over half of their events.
In the 11-12 age group, Megan Caughey, Colton Pimentel, Cameron Traill and Isaiah Traub all made significant improvements and contributed to the team score.
The 9-10 age groups was a source of strength for TCA. Payton Frediani, Avery Jones, Addy McIllroy, Kaitlyn Semsen, and Amanda Teem all assisted in the team victory, swimming to best times in the majority of their events. All of these girls swam events for the first time in a sanctioned meet format.
The team’s 8-and-under age group were arguably the most fun to watch, with several rookie swimmers making their “big meet” debut. Lillian Alridge, Timothy Blackmore, Ella Boone, Hanna Husher, Hayden Jones, Logan Slater, Jack Teem and Aleah Traill all had impressive 25 yard swims.