RIVERSIDE >> Santa Margarita’s girls and Dana Hills’ boys approached the CIF-SS Division 1 swimming prelims differently Thursday, but achieved the same desired result.
Both squads navigated into title contention for Saturday’s 5 p.m. finals at Riverside City College.
“It will be a splash-down,” Dana Hills boys coach Matt Rosa said. “It will be exciting on Saturday to see if we can make this work.”
Santa Margarita’s girls, seeking a fourth consecutive Division 1 crown, charted a course Thursday based on pure speed. The Eagles pushed their throttle to high gear and were rewarded with a Division 1 meet record in the 400-yard freestyle relay and several notable lifetime-best times.
Dana Hills’ boys, aiming for their first Division 1 title, executed a more calculated trek that focused on qualifying position, exploring strategies and knowingly leaving some fuel in their tanks for finals.
“Everyone treats (prelims) differently,” said Tesoro junior Daniel Kim, who qualified first in the 100 backstroke (48.73 seconds) and second in the butterfly (48.09) in county-leading and lifetime-best times. “If I go slow in prelims, it stresses me a lot for finals, so I think I put more pressure on myself.”
Santa Margarita’s girls capped their explosive session by breaking their 2015 Division 1 record in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:20.62. The team of lead-off Samantha Shelton (49.58), Mackenzie Degn (51.92) and freshmen Anicka Delgado (49.62) and Ella Ristic (49.50) broke their previous standard by almost half-a-second.
“We don’t like to waste prelims on just securing a spot,” Shelton said. “We also want to get best times here. Our approach was getting best times in prelims and coming back to finals and just racing and seeing how fast we can go.”
Shelton qualified first in the 200 free (1:46.53) and 100 backstroke (53.80), clocking a lifetime-best in the dorsal event, a new wrinkle to her resume.
“I like (the backstroke) because I usually always do freestyle, so it’s a good change,” the junior said. “You never know what you can do (in a new event). I didn’t think I’d be that good of a backstroker.”
Delgado stormed to top seeds in the 50 free (22.91) and butterfly (53.98) by posting lifetime-best times in both events. She jumped to sixth all-time in the county in the 50 and seventh in the fly.
“I just knew I was tapered (and had a) new text suit. I felt good,” Delgado said.
Santa Margarita’s 200 free relay of Delgado, Marriott Hoffmann, Degn and anchor Shelton (22.54) qualified first in 1:33.02, about a 1½ seconds ahead of Valencia of Valencia.
Dana Hills’ boys emerged as the favorite after a strong showing in prelims. Based on a scoring of prelims, the Dolphins lead defending Loyola of Los Angeles, 293-274. Northwood surfaced third at 232.
The Dolphns qualified first in the medley relay (county-leading 1:32.24), fifth in the 200 free relay (1:24.43) and third in the 400 free relay…