By ERICA WAELTY
For The Union Democrat
Claire Caldera, Payton Frediani, Ashley Nersesian, Matt Scanlin, Allison Slater, Megan Slater, Sammie Slater and Teri Wells led their 64 teammates at Tuolumne County Aquatics to a first-place finish in the 34th Annual Age Group Open held at Sonora Sports and Fitness Center from Friday through Sunday.
TCA won the three-day meet with 1,081 points over second place Oakdale Aquatics with 955 points and rounding out the top three was Pirate Aquatics with 467 points.
Sammie Slater, 12, and Teri Wells, 18, both earned the first-place high point award in their age group. Sammie swam in 12 events throughout the weekend and improved in every swim. She began the meet with a 37- second improvement in her 500 freestyle (6:04.29). She continued to power through her freestyle events with a 13-second improvement in her 200 (2:15.59) and a three-second improvement for a personal record in her 100 (1:00.37).
Wells, also swimming 12 events, showed her strength in her distance events, dropping over 30 seconds in both her 500 freestyle (6:25.75) and 400 IM (5:43.71). She also excelled in her 200 butterfly (2:56.12) and 200 IM (2:41.67).
Sarkis Nersesian, 8, also won a first-place high-point award for his age group, winning the 25 breaststroke (21.96), 50 breaststroke (50.68), and 25 freestyle (18.84).
Ashley Nersesian, 11, and Megan Slater, 8, placed in the top three for high point in their age group. Both girls swam the maximum number of events and earned all new personal records.
Ashley earned two first-place finishes in her 200 IM (2:31.41) and 100 butterfly (1:09.62). She also made huge time improvements in her 500 freestyle (5:57.84) and 200 freestyle (2:12.99). Megan won her first event in the 25 breaststroke (25.62). She also raced hard to a third-place finish in her 100 IM (1:44.12) and 50 breaststroke (58.88).
Claire Caldera, 11, Payton Frediani, 9, Allison Slater, 11, and Matt Scanlin, 15, swam full meets and excelled over the course of the three-day meet.
Claire had three events that really stood out to the team, the 200 IM (2:49.45), 100 butterfly (1:23.05) and 500 freestyle (6:17.12). Payton earned a new Junior Olympic time standard in her 50 backstroke (42.66), while improving significantly in her 100 IM (1:40.79) and 100 freestyle (1:34.79). Allison swam an impressive 100 backstroke (1:34.75), winning her heat and dropping nine seconds. She also impressed across the board in her breaststroke events. Matt led the boys in his age group. He swam to a 50-second time improvement in the 500 freestyle (6:02.07) and a 30-second improvement and second-place finish in his 200 butterfly (2:48.17).
Katherine Hohne, 15, Kiana Arnold, 15, Makena Forster, 14, and Siena Hapig-Ward, 16, showed progress and perseverance throughout the long weekend. These girls led the team in new personal best times, seconds dropped and by example for the younger swimmers.
Leading the way for the younger swimmers were Brooke Bentley, 10, Kelsey Burr, 9, Kathryn Campbell, 12, Megan Caughey, 11, Rajah Foerstner, 10, Min Kerr-Schfrin, 11, Trevor Mills, 12, Grace Nunnelley, 9, Teska Hapig-Ward, 12, and Tyler Tipton, 8. These athletes swam the entire three-day meet format, competing and achieving new personal records in their events. Rajah obtained a new Junior Olympic time standard in his 100 freestyle (1:18.45).
The 9-10 age groups was a source of strength for TCA, scoring a large amount of points for the team, in individual and relay events. India Knight, Gabby McRee, Ainslee Shuemake, Emily VanNoord, Cameron Traill, Alan Wells and Brevin Wilson all assisted in the team victory, swimming to best times in the majority of their events.
Athletes with new Sierra Nevada “B” time standards include Kenzie Arnold, Ella Boone, Casey Burr, Ben Chesson, Hanna Nunnelley, Colton Pimentel, Mercedes Sarah, and Ian Smith and Avery Wilson
Competitors with new Sierra Nevada “BB” time standards include; Skip Haugen, Ariana Lyons, Connor Tipton and Samantha Smith.
Swimmers with a Sierra Nevada “A” times were Brendan Hurley and Dylan Miguel.
TCA had several swimmers compete for just one day of the meet and they obtained all best times. These swimmers include: Gracie Bearden, Julia Bearden, Kendall Boone, Sydney Chesson, Johnny Crawford, Sean Gallagher, Anya Haugen, Avery Jones, Simon Mills, and Kaitlyn Semsen.
The team had some rookie swimmers, competing for the first time in a sanctioned-meet format, those swimmers are Emily Berry, Jessica Berry, Alec Hawks, Aleah Traill.
Erica Waelty is head coach of the TCA youth program.