For the fourth consecutive season, the Turlock-based summer swimming program Seadogs are the Mid Valley Swim League Champions.
Coming off their first loss in over three seasons a week prior, the Seadogs put the defeat aside and focused on the present, and it paid dividends for the local team after taking a nail-biting victory on Saturday at Tracy.
Seadogs head coach Michaela Solario knew that it would be a tight contest with the Ripon Sea Lions.
The Turlock squad pulled out the win with a final score of 1708.5. The Ripon Sea Lions finished second after notching a score 1693.5.
“The loss was not something we chose to focus on and our kids came out with so much fire and passion,” Solario said. “I think my stomach is still in knots. It was a long day and we knew from the start it was going to be a close one.”
The Seadogs' start was nearly flawless, with the team taking multiple first place finishes in the medley relays.
The Seadogs finished in the top three in all of the relay races and captured first place results in five of them.
“We had so many kids step up on Saturday it was crazy,” said Solario.
One of the team's biggest contributions came from Dom Walls, who took charge of the 15-16 boys division.
Walls placed first in the 50 free, 100 breaststroke and 100 free races.
“I thought after that event that I would be most happy and proud of the awards he has won this season,” said Dave Walls, Dom's father. “That's not the case — I'm most proud that he could be an example for the little swimmers coming up who need and want someone to look up to. To hear kind words about my son from friends and strangers stirs my soul.”
Matthew Hesse also fought hard in the 13-14 boys division, placing first in both the 50 free and back along with three second place results in the 200 free relay, 100 free and 200 yard medley relay.
Competing in the 11-12 girls division, Madison Ngo did a great job overall for her team, placing second in the 100 individual medley, 50 yard back and breast.
“It was a great feeling, knowing that each and every one of our kids came out to race and came out to defend our title,” Solario said. “It was a great feeling. There was more of a relief that it was finally over, and all of the hard work has paid off.”
The next step for the Seadogs will be the final meet, which is called the Meet of Champions.
It will be hosted in Sacramento and will be between the top qualifying members of the MVSL.
The Seadogs qualified 78 swimmers, with about 30 kids looking to compete Solario said.
“Our swim family is proud of our accomplishments and we as a coaching staff are so proud of each and every Seadog for giving us their best every time they were in the pool,” she added. “It is this love and passion for the sport that we are so excited to foster, regardless of the results.”