While a few of the other California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sections have opted to cancel their section’s championship meets, the Southern Section will continue on in preparation for their meets.
The event will take place over the course of just over a week, with the first day of the diving competitions beginning on May 20, and the last day of swimming competition concluding on May 29. The swimming portions of the competition will take place at Santa Margarita Catholic High School and take place on May 25, 27, and 29 according to division. The diving portion will take place at Marguerite Aquatics Center and span two days, from May 20 to May 21.
The CIF Southern Section covers a large portion of Southern California high schools, both public and private. Its area broadly spans across Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and central and southern Santa Barbara counties.
The section recently released the meet information to coaches and teams, covering meet formatting, entry procedures, qualification standards, and other information. Like many other meets around the country, spectators will not be permitted. Only one coach per team will be allowed on deck.
Four divisions comprise the CIF Southern Section, with each school in the section being pre-assigned a division. The CIF Southern Section competition will thus host four meets within itself or one meet for each division.
Each swim meet will be formatted as a timed finals event, with only the top-16 swimmers in each division competing at competition. Although each event will take place in two heats, swimmers from either heat will have the opportunity to place in the top-eight.
The diving section of the event will also take place according to the four divisions, with five diving championships being held over the course of two days. CIF Southern Section Division 3 will be separated into both a boys and a girls meet. All of the rounds of diving will be completed in one session.
Given that the CIF State Championships were cancelled in late April, the meet will serve as the final competition of the season for swimmers in the CIF Southern Section.
The cancellation of the CIF State championships comes after four of the six Northern California region sections announced the cancellation of their section meets. Each section has acted in accordance with their local public health guidelines, which explains the discrepancies between sections and regions. The press release from CIF announcing the cancellation of the state championships stated that with the cancellation of many northern California section meets, it would not be feasible to hold the CIF State Championships.
An interesting development recently came from the CIF-San Diego Section, which originally called for the cancellation of their section championships, but announced on April 16 that the championships were back on. They were held over the weekend of April 23-24.
The cancellation and later reinstatement of the CIF-San Diego Section championships demonstrates the dynamic nature of California’s public health guidelines, which heavily influenced youth sports in California. The state of California currently maintains their ban on out-of-state youth sport competitions.
With the statewide roll-out of vaccinations, most counties are beginning to loosen COVID-related restrictions, but the situation remains variable. Abrupt changes in COVID cases and hospitalizations within the borders of the CIF-Southern Section’s coverage could possibly impact the competition.
The Southern Section is the largest division in CIF, and many current notable swimmers hail from this section, including class of 2022 #20 recruit Hank River, National Teamer Justina Kozan, and Olympic Trials qualifier Morganne Malloy. Past alumni include National Teamers, Olympians, World Record holders and world champions alike, such as Anthony Ervin, Grant Shoults, Abbey Weitzel, Jessica Hardy, Tom Shields, Janet Evans, and Kaitlin Sandeno.
Meet entries for the competition are not due until the morning of May 22, so whether or not athletes preparing for the Olympic Trials will compete in the CIF Southern Section Championships is unclear at this time. With the first wave of Trials beginning on June 4, that leaves less than a two week turnaround for athletes also scheduled to compete in the CIF Southern Championships.
In 2016, many athletes who had already qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials decided to turn their focus to that meet instead of competing at the CIF Southern Section Championships. Among swimmers who opted out were Grant Shoults, Maxime Rooney, Sam Shelton, Katie Glavinovich, Nora Deleske, and Kate Krolikowski.