By Patty Pope
The El Dorado Hills Tasmanian Devils defeated the Broadstone Barracudas, 518-271, on Saturday, July 14, at the El Dorado Hills Community Services District swimming pool. Blue skies, cool morning temperatures and crowded parking lots provided the perfect setting for the meet’s first event — the 9-10 Girls 100 yard IM where Katie Sharp, 10, finished in 1:28:46 and earned the first victory of the day, launching an unstoppable Taz momentum.
As the victorious tone continued, nostalgic presentations were made poolside highlighting six recent Oak Ridge High School graduates for whom Saturday was a final home meet. The six teammates are long-time friends who swim competitively for Taz and coach younger Taz swimmers.
Annie Harriman thanked her parents for “getting me on the team, taking me to all the meets and being the best cheerleaders.” Annie has 13 years of swim team memories. “I remember when I was swimming as an 11 -12 girl, I took 8 seconds off my 100 free. Another great memory was when I received the ‘Most Inspirational’ award.”
Annie holds two club backstroke records and a relay team record. She’s hoping to claim a league record this year at Champs. This fall Annie will begin general studies at Sierra College where she will also swim and play water polo. She’s considering a career as a teacher.
Eric Rohrer also joined Taz at age 5. “I’m thankful to my parents for starting me on the team, and for my friends Josh, Annie, Shannon and Amanda. The best part of Taz has been getting to know the kids, hanging out and having fun. I love Buddy Night because I got to know even more kids.”
An outstanding memory for Eric happened in 2009 when his team broke club records for both the free relay and the medley relay. After completing general studies in Folsom, Eric plans to study Landscape Architecture at UC Davis or UC San Diego.
Eric’s friend Amanda Jones started swimming on Taz at the age of 6. “Practices are fun. I love coaching and I love how family oriented Taz is. Everyone on our team is close. I’ve noticed that other teams aren’t always as close.”
Amanda’s fondest memory was when Taz won the Sportsmanship Award two years in a row. “Winning the Sportsmanship Award was cool because it was important to my dad. He really wanted it for the team.” Amanda will travel to Thousand Oaks to study Business and play water polo at California Lutheran University.
Taylor Wetzel will also miss Taz, explaining, “It’s a good way to spend summers.” Taylor thanks her parents for driving to meets early on Saturdays. “And I thank the coaches for always pushing me to do my best. That’s what I love about Taz; it never matters what level swimmer you are, everyone matters, and everyone is expected to do their best.”
Taylor’s favorite memory is Buddy Night. “At Buddy Night you get to know someone who watches you swim all season and tells you ‘Good Job’, someone who’s not a coach.”
Taylor is looking forward to Champs where “everyone tends to swim their best and show their talents!” Taylor soon journeys to CSU Chico as part of the honors program where she will study political science, her sights set on law.
“I will really miss going to the block,” Megan Moestopo reflected. “This is it … it’s bittersweet. But I’ll always have the pool to go back to. That’s the thing about swimming, you might not race on a team, but you can get back into the water.
Megan has been doing swim team forever, and her finest Taz memory is singing the National Anthem for swim meets. “I love swimming, but it’s nice to do other things, too.” She plans to go all out at Champs, “It’s the last one!” Megan heads to San Fransisco State in the fall where she will study business and marketing.
Josh Verner thinks of Taz as family. Josh joined Taz at age 5, and he’s still friends with the same kids with whom he started. “The coaching staff treats us like family. They’re really supportive.”
Josh best remembers some come-from-behind record-breaking relays at Champs, and just hanging with friends at meets. Josh will attend Oral Roberts University where he plans to study nursing and intercultural studies.
By the time Event 74 approached and Taz had secured a commanding lead, fans were treated to some spectacular relays. The 13-14 boys 200-yard freestyle relay was won by a mere one-one-hundredth of a second by team William Kirk, 14; Brandt Parkerton, 13; John Moestopo, 14; and Cole Tilley, 13. A similar situation played out during the 15-18 womens 200-yard freestyle relay as Taz captured first place by team Baili Ebinger, 15; Samantha Sruba, 15; Madisen Grinnell, 15; and Amrita Chimni, 17, and rapidly stole second by 14 one-hundredths of a second by team Shannon Kiss, 17; Cailin Navikas, 16; Amanda Jones, 17; and Taylor Wetzel, 18.
“Our 7-8 boys medley relay team beat a club record of 1:13:64 from 1987!” boasted head coach Jason Brown. Ethan Mueller, Charlie King, Patrick Sammon and Mitchell Scott set a new record time of 1:08:60.
As the competition came to a close, Taz head coach Jason Brown was already looking ahead. “We have to stay focused. We’ll be working on butterfly and breast, with minor tweaks here and there. The relays are very important and the team will focus on starts as we look forward.”
This weekend, Taz swimmers visit the Loomis Basin Dolphins on Saturday, July 21, in hopes of securing a perfect regular season record of 7-0.