CIF-SS Combined Results: 7 D2/D3 Events Prove Faster Than Division 1


In analyzing the consolidated results of the CIF-SS Championships, bringing together divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4, it becomes clear that the top division isn’t as dominant over the others as say, at the NCAA Championships. While the odd NCAA division 2 swimmer would be a contender at the D1 level, the California Southern Section has a swimmer from one of the lower divisions in the majority of events ranked inside the top-3.

In total, there were seven events where a lower division swimmer had the fastest time of all, and another where there was a tie with a D1 swimmer for top spot. Take a look below:

Elise Garcia of Crean Lutheran, Danny Syrkin of La Canada and Andrew Koustik of Calvary Chapel-Santa Ana all had spectacular performances at the D2 Championships to post the top times of the entire Section in both of their individual events, with Garcia tying Santa Margarita’s Anicka Delgado from D1 in the 50 free. Alexandra Crisera, who holds the top time in the 100 free, actually led off her team’s 200 free relay in a time that was faster than Garcia and Delgado at 22.59.

Emily Trieu of Los Osos was another one to have two impressive individual performances with her 2:00.26 in the 200 IM and 53.21 in the 100 back, both 2nd in the Section.

For division 3, Thomas Finello was a standout with the top time overall in the 50 free, along with the 3rd fastest 100 free (45.09). For the girls, the top D3 placing was Emma Davidson of Yorba Linda, 3rd in the 50 free in 23.30.

In division 4, Katelyn Nguyen of Roland had the top placing at 10th in the 50 free in a time of 23.72, and was also 11th in the 100 at 51.57. For the boys, Dominic Falcon of Ocean View was 11th in the 500 free (4:32.83).

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Isn’t divisional breakdown in most of these high school’s based on size (student population) and not really “talent”? So while it goes without saying that wealthy schools with large populations might have the most depth in a sport like swimming, it is certainly possible (if not likely) that plenty of just as fast swimmers will show up at smaller schools?

James – that’s incorrect. I don’t know the exact formula, but in effect, if, as a team, you swim really fast at a lower level, they move you up. There’s schools with 4,000 students in D4. If you win a lower division 2 years in a row, I believe they move you up. That used to be the rule, at least. Cerritos won 2 D4 titles in a row, with about 2,200 students, and have moved up to D3.

In other words – it’s different than most high school associations that those of us outside of California are used to, where classifications are based almost exclusively on student body size (with some ability to appeal up or down).


Yes, but it is not like a sport like basketball where if one player wins they all win. It is not surprising that some individuals will be faster in a lower division while the whole team is not strong enough to move up.


Its based upon whether kids swim year round or do water polo year round. There are a few kids with so much natural talent they can make CIF without swimming year round or doing water polo year round. The larger schools are more likely to have kids that swim or do water polo year round compared to the smaller schools. Sometimes, the smaller schools will have a kid that does year round swimming but not other kids.

Sunny Cal

This is correct. League also doesn’t matter. Back in 2008 when both Keppel boy’s and girl’s team won 2 D4 titles in a row with a tad bit over 2,000 students, they got moved up. As a result, the entire league got moved up regardless of how the other teams did at CIF.


If that is in fact the rule, shouldn’t Crean Lutheran have been in division one in 2017, after winning back-to-back D2 titlesfor girls in 2015 and 2016? Also Los Osos should have, after winning for boys in 2013 & 2014. Now will schools like Rowland move up from D4, and Foothill from D2, after both teams just winning back-to-back titles?

Somebody knows the nuance better than me. There’s a league component as well (Leagues move together).


Part of it is population size but Santa Margarita has girls that make nationals. So, they would not be competing against my old high school Los Amigos in Division 4 which probably had only 4 girls swim year round in its history since the late 1960’s,

Foreign Embassy

It is based on school size and, as mentioned, based additionally on performance. My high school in the early 90s was div 1 for 2 years when we had 1000 students total at school. But we were a national public hs record setting team so we were bumped to Div1. By my junior year we were D2. And have moved back and forth ever since. At most we had 7 men at CIF and 5 women. IMHO it should be based on school size exclusively Bc with so many divisions in SoCal there should be a league meet, a division meet, a regional meet (CIf) then a state meet. But the state meet should be the focus. Had they had… Read more »


Agreed, but with the swim season schedule setup, its going to be impossible. Back 10 yrs ago, CIF setup a Master’s meet after the CIF Division meets that acted as the “State Meet” at that time and that was a total fail. Most of the top end swimmers didn’t show up. Most, if not all, of the top end SoCal high school swimmers train with their club, and their club coaches would not allow their swimmers to swim at the Masters Meet.


While the top end for D2 might be higher, the top 18 average time in each event is significantly faster.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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