The El Dorado Hills Tasmanian Devils defeated the Sierra Sharks 422-367 on Saturday, June 23, at the Cameron Park Community Services District Pool.
In a run of 19 regular season meets between the neighboring clubs, the Taz swam away with their sixth straight victory. Leading up to the competition, coaching staff for both teams prepared their swimmers for a close battle.
“The Sierra Sharks are well-coached and have good sportsmanship,” Taz head coach Jason Brown commented before Saturday’s rally. “It should be a nice meet; the kids will have a great time and it’s a pleasure to visit the Shark’s pool. We’re looking for some especially exciting competition in the 9-10 boys medley relay because there’s less than a one-second differential between the leading groups’ times. We’re anticipating a really close race in the 11-12 boys medley relay for the same reason.
“We’re also keeping our eye on a couple of swimmers who are chasing records. Seven-year-old Patrick Sammon broke the Taz record last week in event 33, the 7-8 Boy’s 50 yard freestyle. His time of 32.72 lowered the nine-year record of 32.98 set by Saxon Elkins on July 12, 2003,” Brown continued. “Patrick is looking to claim a new record in the 25 free, which was set at 14.23 on July 11, 1987, by Michael Pomares.
“Another swimmer to watch is 15-year-old Trevor Dong,” the coach continued. “Last week while swimming against the Folsom Sea Otters, he established a new club record in the 100 yard backstroke with a time of 55.28. The previous record of 55.80 was set by Adam Yanagihara on July 31, 2004.”
Sierra Sharks head coach Bri James was also “ready for some healthy competition between two great teams!” James has been swimming with the Sierra Sharks since she was 4 years old, got into coaching with the team at 14, and she now enjoys her role as the Shark’s head coach. “It’s always fun swimming Taz,” she said. “Taz is an excellent organization; everyone’s friendly. When we swim Taz, they push us and we always boost our times. We expect close races that are awesome to cheer for.”
As swimmers and families were waiting for event No. 1, the Okashimas commented on their experiences as a new Taz family. Mom Allison explained that they try to expose their children to all sports. “We chose Taz because I had heard great things about Taz. It’s very family oriented and there are lots of our friends on the team. We wouldn’t want to swim against our friends,” she said. “It’s tough in a sense to be a new swimmer when many of the kids have already swam for years, but Lindsay has worked very hard, really improved and stuck with it. We’re very proud of her. Major kudos to these kids.”
Daughter Lindsay Okashima, 11, said that she decided to join Taz because she likes to swim and to be with friends. “My favorite stroke is the freestyle,” she explained. “Practices are tough and really hard work, but the meets are fun. During meets, my friend Kashtin and I play cards and hang out in different tents.” While Lindsay was talking she was approached by a coach, handed a slip and was told that she was needed to “swim up” in the 13-14 girls free relay.
After the meet, Coach Brown reflected on some race highlights. “Patrick McIntee, 11, had a huge comeback today in the 200 yard freestyle relay. Taylor Wetzel, 18, swam an excellent butterfly. Calvin Phen, 15, also had an excellent butterfly race, and finally the 11-12 girls 200 yard freestyle relay team had a great finish; Lauren Tilley really smoked it!”
This week, while the Taz enjoy a bye, they prepare to host their archrivals Park Terrace on Saturday, July 7. Last season the Park Terrace Penguins finished undefeated, additionally claiming the coveted SSL Championship.