The Taz relay team competes at Champs. Courtesy photo


Taz takes championship

By From page A6 | August 07, 2013

The El Dorado Hills Tasmanian Devils Swim Team claimed first place at the Suburban Swim League Championships, July 26-28, at Sierra College in Rocklin.

The Taz posted 1,201 points over the three-day contest. After a four-year run of taking first place at Champs, the Park Terrace Penguins, archrivals to the Taz, fell to second place with 1,045 points and the Granite Bay Gators placed third with 997.

Team spirit was heightened and enthusiasm coursed throughout the Taz camp during the 48th SSL Championship Meet. The team and athletes appeared unstoppable as they rallied behind fellow swimmers and, characteristic of a winning team, numerous Taz athletes established club records.

Payton Valencia, 12, swam the women’s 11-12 50-yard backstroke in 31.00, breaking Megan Barnett’s time of 31.07 set in 1996. In the 15-16 100-yard freestyle, Taz great Morgan Jones, 15, broke her own record from earlier in the season with a new time of 55.05. And Kayla Rios, 15, with a time of 1:03:98, replaced teammate Annie Harriman’s 100-yard backstroke best, which was set at Champs 2010.

Three team records were similarly logged in the men’s category. Patrick Sammon, 9, reset a record he already held; his new time of 14.15 will stand in the 9-10 25-yard butterfly. Trevor Dong, 17, achieved a time of 47.45 in the men’s 17-18 100-yard freestyle, superseding Eric Nichols’ 2005 time of 47.46. Trevor didn’t stop there, as he also clocked a time of 53.26 in the men’s 17-18 100-yard backstroke, beating a time of 53.83 set by Adam Yanagihara in 2005.

In addition to posting new club records, several Taz swimmers reached an elite status by claiming Suburban Swim League records. Jones’ time of 55.05 in the women’s 15-16 100-yard freestyle not only stands as a Taz record, but is also published as a record in the SSL. Both of Dong’s new club records now stand prominently as SSL highs.

The depth of Taz talent was further revealed as two relay teams also set records this year at Champs. The following relay team set a new SSL record in the men’s 13-14 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:38:81: Robbie Otto, Cole Tilley, Jack Davidson and Nicholas Grinnell. A Taz club record was marked with a time of 1:43:30 in the women’s 15-18 200-yard freestyle relay by teammates Samantha Scruba, Madisen Grinnell, Amrita Chimni and Morgan Jones. The previous time of 1:44:59 was held by the same relay team.

On July 30, the Taz held its annual Awards Night at Bertelsen Park in El Dorado Hill, a culminating event where all swimmers are honored for outstanding personal and team accomplishments, and coaches and families are recognized for their contributions and support. With a record number of Taz swimmers this season, countless trophies and awards were distributed.

The following Taz swimmers were celebrated for being the 2013 Champs High Point Scorers:  Katie Tadayeksi, 5, Girls 6 and Under; Lucas Roth, 6, Boys 6 and Under; Brooke Davidson, 8, Girls 7-8; Mitchell Scott, 8, Boys 7-8; Mackenzie Buehler, 10, Girls 9-10; Patrick Sammon, 9, Boys 9-10; Payton Valencia, 12, Girls 11-12; Brendan Kirtlan, 12, Boys 11-12; Gabi Costamagna, 14, Girls 13-14; Nicholas Grinnell, 13, Boys 13-14; Kayla Rios, 15, and Morgan Jones, 15, tied in the Girls 15-16; Will Kirk, 15, Mens 15-16; Amrita Chimni, 18, Girls 17-18; and Trevor Dong, 17, Boys 17-18.

Head Coach Jason Brown addressed the Taz crowd and expressed his gratitude.

“It took three years to build this championship team, and I have to thank everyone. The board and families really got behind us,” Brown said. “Our first year was a building year; we worked on getting our older swimmers back, and I have to thank the board for really getting that message out. Year two was a strong year and we stayed the course, nearly winning. And of course this year we just brought it home!

“I have to thank all of the families and the kids for the win,” he continued. “It was a very long weekend, and the coaches really gave it all; the swimmer coaches were flawless. Our coaches were leading the efforts all the way, and the entire team was amazing and cheering each other on.  It was incredible; the kids were really in the zone.”

Over and above swimming accolades, Taz Awards Night was also witness to the nomination of college scholarships as presented by Taz President Brett Jones. Amrita Chimni and Shannon Kiss were each awarded scholarships of $1,000 by the Tasmanian Devils Scholarship Committee. Taz scholarship selections are presented every year and are based on what is called “Caesar” qualities as espoused by the El Dorado Hills swim organization: leadership, academic and athletic attendance, courage, humor, noble sportsmanship, exemplary attitude and a minimum GPA of 3.0 throughout all four high school years.

As awards night came to a close and swimmers feasted on victory cake, Taz President Jones said, “It’s been a long time coming. Our last win at Champs was in 2008, which is way too long for this team!”

Select Taz swimmers continued competitive swimming in the Meet of Champions, Aug. 3-4, at the Roseville Aquatic Center. Eligibility for the Meet of Champions is based on qualifying times. The MOC is an All-Star swim meet that brings together the top recreational/summer league swimmers from the greater Sacramento Valley Area.

Visit the El Dorado Hills Tasmanian Devils website,, for details on off-season swim clinics as well as team registration information, and  “like” the Taz on Facebook at EDH Taz.

Patty Pope


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