Santa Margarita’s girls swimming and diving team will feature several high seeds and a notable lineup twist next week in Riverside when it attempts to capture a fourth consecutive Division 1 title at the CIF-SS championships.
The top-ranked Eagles claimed three top seeds and four No. 2 seeds Saturday during the release of the psych sheets for the championships.
Santa Margarita also designated standout Samantha Shelton to race the 100-yard backstroke at CIF for the first time. The junior claimed the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly last May at CIF en route to being selected Register female swimmer of the year.
On Friday at the Trinity League finals, Shelton won the dorsal event in a school-record 54.91 seconds and finished a narrow second to teammate Ella Ristic in the 200 free.
“We made that decision (for the backstroke) with Samantha last night,” Santa Margarita co-coach Rich Blanc said in a text Saturday. “She wants to do it at CIF. I think she will do quite well.”
The Southern Section championships open Monday with Division 2 and 3 diving. Two-time defending state champion Colten Young of Crean Lutheran is seeded first in Division 2.
The diving continues Tuesday with Division 1 and 4. Division 1 prelims are Thursday at 9 a.m.
Shelton will attempt to defend her title in the 200 free but is seeded a second to Ristic, a rising freshman who clocked a Trinity record 1:46.93 on Friday.
Shelton also is slotted second in the Division 1 backstroke to Newport Harbor’s surging Ayla Spitz, who set the Sunset record with a 54.16.
Dana Hills’ boys are seeded first in four events, including two courtesy of Trent Pellini in the 200 individual medley and breaststroke.
Crean Lutheran junior Eva Merrell, who missed the Academy League finals with a shoulder injury, is seeded first in the butterfly and backstroke. The Saints are seeking a third straight Division 2 title and fifth overall.
Orange County also could have a strong presence in Division 3. Canyon’s boys…