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Warrior girls win Cougar Relays, break meet 4x50 freestyle record

Fallbrook High School’s varsity girls swim team not only won the Cougar Relays meet held March 13 at Palomar College but also broke the meet record for the 4x50 freestyle event.

Fallbrook senior Emma Baldwin, sophomore Erin McCook, senior Alex Rodriguez, and sophomore Sarah Bushnell completed the 200-yard race in 1:47.25 to break the previous meet record of 1:48.02 set by Valley Center High School in 2005. The Warriors’ team of junior Jackie Verdon, McCook, Rodriguez, and Bushnell posted a time of 3:57.03 to win the 4x100 freestyle relay at the meet. Fallbrook also finished second in three races and third in two races.

“I just wanted to see what they could do, and I was totally surprised,” said Fallbrook coach Sean Redmond.

The Cougar Relays allowed Redmond to place some of his swimmers in events in which they normally don’t compete. “I look at the relay meet being opportunities,” he said.

In a dual meet, schools enter up to three swimmers for an individual event, and scores reflect the top five finishers. Other than the lack of a 500-yard freestyle swim (or diving), the Cougar Relays encompassed dual meet events with a school’s depth being reflected serially. “It takes all three swimmers, or four if it’s a four-person relay, to work together,” Redmond said. Using the Cougar Relays as preparation for subsequent meets meant that Redmond wasn’t concerned about how the team placed. “I think they were just more relaxed and having fun,” he said. “That’s when the pressure’s off and you end up doing your best.”

The Warriors opened their season March 3 with a dual meet at Carlsbad and lost by a 99-71 score to the Lancers. Redmond notes that the result was an improvement over Carlsbad’s 121-65 victory in 2009. (The 2009 scores reflect diving competition; diving positions are only counted if both schools have a diver and Carlsbad does not have one for 2010.)

Bushnell accounted for Fallbrook’s only two winning events at Carlsbad, taking first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.87 seconds and first in the 100-yard freestyle at 55.70 seconds. Those times were also Fallbrook’s only individual automatic qualifying times for the CIF meet, although Baldwin swam consideration times in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, senior Cassandra Dowden posted consideration times in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke, junior Hunter Bowman had a consideration time in the 100-yard butterfly, and the Warriors obtained an automatic time in the 200-yard medley relay.

A dual meet allows schools to have up to two relay teams in such races with the top three finishers being scored. First-place and third-place finishes in the 400-yard freestyle relay which closes out a meet gave Fallbrook a 97-89 victory over Poway in the Warriors’ first home meet of the season March 9. McCook, Baldwin, Rodriguez, and Bushnell not only gave the Warriors a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay but also a CIF automatic qualifying time.

The Warriors won five of the eight individual swimming events against Poway along with two of the three relay races and the diving competition. Jaime Lusher’s 187.60 points on six dives won the meet and also gave the Fallbrook junior automatic entry into the CIF meet. Bushnell’s winning time of 25.01 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle was complemented by an automatic qualifying time of 1:02.71 in the 100-yard butterfly which also won the race. (Regardless of how many automatic qualifying times are achieved, a swimmer is limited to two individual events at the CIF meet.) Baldwin won the 500-yard freestyle with an automatic qualifying time of 5:29.80. Dowden won the 100-yard breaststroke while posting an automatic time of 1:16.14. Rodriguez won the 100-yard freestyle in 58.82 seconds, which is a consideration time. The Warriors also won the 200-yard freestyle relay with an automatic time. Consideration times were swam by McCook in the 50-yard freestyle, Jennifer Chavez in the 200-yard individual medley, and Lisa Walker in the 200-yard freestyle.

In addition to Fallbrook’s two wins at the Cougar Relays, the Warriors placed second in the 3x200 individual medley, the 3x100 freestyle, and the 3x100 backstroke while taking third in the 3x200 freestyle and 3x100 butterfly races. Fallbrook was fourth in the 3x100 breaststroke, sixth in the 4x50 medley relay, and seventh in the 3x50 freestyle.

The Scholastic Aptitude Test also took place March 13, limiting Fallbrook’s junior varsity team to three girls. Despite only competing in three races, the Warriors took fifth as a junior varsity team. The JV competition included two 3x100 freestyle races, which were both won by Fallbrook freshmen Sarah Smith, Arielle Guerra, and Chelsea Sommer. The three Warrior freshmen took second in the 3x50 freestyle race.

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