The skies over Burbank High School were heavy with clouds on May 7, but the swimmers at the Pacific League Finals were not deterred by the cold weather in the slightest.
Despite the threat of rain hanging overhead and temperatures that reached 50 degrees, Arcadia High School’s Apaches fought on bravely, finishing within the top three in all four divisions. The junior varsity girls came in third at the meet overall, while both the varsity girls and varsity boys claimed second in their respective divisions. The junior varsity boys captured first place at the meet.
Coach Janice Clark was proud of the Apaches’ overall performance at League Finals.
“In all four of our divisions, the majority of our team swam personal bests, and for me that is the most important thing in a season: to see [every swimmer] do well individually, and also do well as a team,” she said. “And so to see so many times drop, and so many fantastic swims, was extremely thrilling.”
One such swim was freshman Cindy Huang’s 50-yard freestyle. Huang cinched first place in the varsity girls’ event with a CIF consideration time of 25.32 seconds.
“I really, really, really wanted that first place,” she said with a laugh. Huang credits her victory to long hours of hard work at practice: “You ignore the pain and go all out at practice every day, and [thinking] about how good it feels to win makes you go fast.”
Sophomore Tenny Chong won the varsity boys’ 50 free with a time of 20.76 seconds (well beneath the CIF automatic qualification time of 22.10) and shattered the previous 14-year-old League record of 22.08, as well as the Arcadia High School record of 22.02.
“After I leapt from the blocks, everything was a blur,” Chong recounted. “I only remember hitting the first 25 and watching my opponents engaging their flips. After the race, I was pretty scared to look up at the scoreboard to see what time I got.” Getting that 20.76, he said, “felt like a dream come true.”
Chong had only one word to describe the season as a whole: “legendary.” During the dual meets this season, the varsity boys had gone undefeated for the first time in eight years.
“It was a blessing to swim with such a talented group of swimmers this year, especially the seniors,” Chong said. The senior class, he felt, has “helped [him] mature and … supported [him] to bring out [his] full potential.” He would like to wish the seniors the best of luck as they go into college.
However, Arcadia High’s swim season is not quite over yet, for some: CIF prelims will take place this Friday, May 15 in Riverside, CA.
“We definitely will be [at CIF], because we have some automatic qualifications. We have some consideration qualifications that are very close to the automatic time, and I’m counting on those getting in. I’m very excited that we have a lot more relays that will include more people in the meet,” Coach Clark said.
“As far as next year,” Coach Clark continued, “I really am excited, because [at the high school’s] preview day, so many people came up and were interested in swimming. I really think that next year is going to be another great year.”