Is it in the genes? Maybe, but Loyola High School senior Peter Kropp is certainly making a name of his own in the talented Kropp breaststroking family at this week’s CIF-Southern Sectional Championships in California.
Kropp will take the top seed into the finals of the 100 yard breaststroke with a 54.64, moving him to within a second of John Criste’s 2007 record of 54.15. He will be chased by an impressive swim from Mater Dei’s Dylan Payne (55.58) and Dos Pueblos’ Blake Parrish (56.92).
Kropp also joined his teammates Sam Jo, Oliver Maarse and Josh Lo (all underclassmen except for the Duke-bound senior Kropp) to be the second seed in the 200 medley relay, just .04 behind the group from Corona del Mar. Kropp’s split was 24.34. That already puts him within range of where some of the top-16 relays had their breaststrokers at NCAA’s last year.
Note that Corey John from Loyola only swam one relay in prelims, which gives coach Kevin Mann the ability to pick whether he’d be more valuable on the 200 medley or the 400 free in finals, so this could be a whole different race in finals. John was a 20.87 in the individual 50 free prelims and a 46.20 in the 100.
Duke’s swim program isn’t as historically powerful as its diving program is, but they did have great success last year with one-year incoming transfer Piotr Safronczyk, who made the B-Final at NCAA’s and got to a 53-low. (The academics were surely a factor as well – recall that his sister Andrea spend a year at Princeton before transferring to USC, so this is an intelligent family.)
University junior Corey Okubo took the top seed in the 200 IM with a 1:48.14, ahead of Corona del Mar junior Liam Karas (1:49.38) with Kropp 3rd in 1:50.83. Kropp’s breaststroke was still the fastest of the field in that 200 IM, but it’s maybe not as big of an advantage as one might imagine over the rest of the field (Karas has a great breaststroke leg as well, though Okubo is just so good on the front-half that it will be hard to chase him down.)
The men’s 100 fly prelim shows that this race will live up to expectations in the 9-swimmer final. Dos Pueblos sophomore Alex Valente took the top seed ahead of a big name, big talent field that included Kyle Gornay from Redlands (48.79) and Okubo (49.07). Gornay is the defending champion and the Division I Record holder, and we could see multiple guys get into the 47 range in finals.
In the boys’ 50 free, Jack Descombes took the top seed in 20.80, followed by Loyola’s Corey John (20.87) and Descombes’ teammate Spencer DeShon. In fact, Capo Valley had three of the top 5 seeds coming out of prelims (leading a stunning 22 swimmers under 22 seconds), but even that incredible depth couldn’t beat out Corona del Mar’s 200 free relay. The appropriately-named Sea Kings from del Mar had three guys split under 21 seconds. That race will be an absolute slugfest in finals.
On the girls’ side of the meet, Saugus sophomore Abbey Weitzeil was a 22.58 in the 50 freestyle, which broke a nearly 10-year old Division 1 Record of 22.75 set by former Irvine High swimmer Courtney Cashion. She then followed it with a 49.22 in the 100 yard freestyle to overtake Cashion’s record of 49.26 set there as well.
The other Division 1 Record to go down on the women’s side of the pool went to JSerra, where Kaitlyn Albertoli (who is chasing Weitzeil in both sprint races), Karli Thuen, Rebecca Millard, and Katie McLaughlin swam a 1:34.27 for the top seed. That broke the record set by the same foursome in finals last year. Not only do they have a chance at dropping even more time in finals, and then next year with only the graduation of Millard could be really special.