California Southern Section Swimming Championships Begin on Wednesday

CIF Southern Section Swimming Championships – Division I

The 2019 California High School Southern Section Championships kicked off on Wednesday morning in Riverside with prelims of the Division 3 and Division 4 (smallest schools) championships. The top division of the section, division 1, will begin with prelims on Thursday and finals on Saturday, with division 2 running Friday & Saturday.*

*Diving for all divisions began on Wednesday.

The defending champion Santa Margarita girls graduated two individual champions, Isabelle Odgers and Samantha Shelton, but still return a stacked roster led by defending 50 free and 100 fly champion Anicka Delgado as well as defending 100 free champion Ella Ristic.

This year, Ristic, who is entered in the 100 and 200 free, will run in to a big challenger in the form of Newport Harbor’s Ayla Spitz, who is the top seed in both races. In the 100, Spitz is seeded at 48.63, and in the 100 free she’s seeded at 1:45.02. In fact: the top 3 in those events are the exact same: Spitz, Foothill junior Samantha Pearson, and Ristic.

Last year, Person wo the 200 ahead of Spitz with Ristic 3rd, and Spitz won the 500. The latter making a shift to the 100 and 200 from the 200 and 500 puts 3 of the meet’s biggest names on the girls side in direct competition.

A name not returning to this meet on the girls’ side is Ventura junior Tea Laughlin. Last year, she won the girls’ 100 back in 52.77. At Winter Juniors, she improved that to 52.58. This year, however, Ventura slid all the way to Division III, which is where Laughlin will race this year.

The Loyola boys, who were runners-up at last year’s meet, are the favorites this year. The defending champions Northwood graduated a huge class, including 200 free champion Shawn Lou, while Loyola graduated no individual scorers and only a single relay swimmer.

Among the returning stars for Loyola is senior Connor Lee, who last year won the 100 fly in 47.82, While no other returning swimmer was under 50 at last year’s meet, this year he’ll be challenged by Canyons swimmer Kevin Childs, among others, who is seeded just a tenth back of Lee this season in 48.30.

Lee will also swim the 50 free where last year he was 4th. Sean Slusiewicz of Aliso Niguel won the 50 free title last year as a junior, but this year he’s opted to swim the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke and not the 50 free, which opens that race up a little.

The other Loyola champion returning is Mark McCrary, who won the 100 back as a junior last season in 48.94. He’s just the 4th seed this year, and he too will be battling the hot-handed Childs (top seed in 47.92).

Among the other names to watch on the boys’ side is National Age Group Record breaker Ronald Dalmacio, who begins his high school career this season for Harvard Westlake. He’s the 4th seed in the 100 fly in 49.12 and the 2nd seed in the e100 back, his specialty, in 49.13.

Crespi junior Zach Van Zandt will also return to defend his titles. This year, he enters the meet as the top seed in the 200 free (1:38.21) and the 3rd seed in the 100 free (45.22 – behind Saugus senior Justin Morsch). He’s the top returner in that 200 free (1:37.80 – 2nd place last season) and is the defending champion in the 100 free (44.92).

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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