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Hilmar, TC swimmers compete for time

POSTED March 16, 2012 10:55 p.m.

While high school swim teams around the area focus on team scores and performances, Hilmar and Turlock Christian high’s focus is aimed at the individual level. Due to their small numbers and the absence of team swimming in their leagues, the Yellowjackets and Eagles have been forced to forge their own path in the water.

“Because we are not able to score in those (team) swim meets, our main focus is improving these kids’ times,” TC’s head coach Robert Baker said.

In only its fourth season, TC’s boys and girls swim teams are hoping to improve on last season’s accomplishments despite losing six swimmers from a year ago. Juniors Nick Lazar and Lars Russell are the sole returning Eagles and are joined by newcomers Stephanie Ford, Jeremy Souza, and Zach Jordan. That’s right, a combined five-person team.

The Eagles, who practice at Pitman High, have competed in one meet so far, the March Madness Swim Meet at Oakdale High. As the season progresses TC’s sole goal is Sections, where it hopes to qualify for the relay event.

“It’s the best there is in the state for high school, so that’s what we’re looking forward to,” Baker said. “We’re having fun as we move along.”

Hilmar’s swimmers are also eying Sections. Senior Tori Spears and Junior Grace Alves have returned this season after qualifying for Sections a year ago and plan on repeating their success in the relay with the help of freshmen Elizabeth Anderson and Whitney Williams. Spears and Alves have already qualified for this year’s Section tournament after recently recording impressive times in the pool.

“We’re looking good,” Hilmar’s head coach Howard Tremble said. “I can’t complain for not having a year-long program.”

Hilmar has been practicing in Livingston High’s pool as it prepares for a meet with Stoneridge Christian High on Wednesday and the Vallejo Invitational next Saturday. Still, the ‘Jackets primary goal is an improved showing at Sections.

“We’re looking to do better in the relays than we did last year,” Tremble said. “We want to put ourselves in the second day of sections this year for the first time in school history.”

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