Village News Reporter
Practice for Fallbrook High School’s girls swim team began Feb. 6, although many of the girls are also on the Warriors’ water polo team which had two CIF playoff matches and did not conclude competition until Feb. 11. The CIF prohibits Sunday practice, so the water polo players and others returned to the Fallbrook High School pool Feb. 13 and had four days of practice before losing three weeks of pool time.
“There was an issue with the pool pump. The motor decided it didn’t want to work anymore,” said Fallbrook coach Sean Redmond.
Redmond had dry land conditioning and some of the girls swam on their own. “The majority of them did not practice at all,” Redmond said.
A March 11 dive meet at Fallbrook High School was canceled and will not be rescheduled. The planned March 2 home meet against Mission Hills was rescheduled for March 14 at Palomar College, where Mission Hills home meets are held. The March 9 home meet against Pacific Ridge was rescheduled for March 21. Valley Center High School home meets take place at Adams Community Park Pool, and the Jaguars hosted Fallbrook on March 16. The Warriors’ scheduled March 23 home meet against San Pasqual was not delayed.
“We’ve had four of them. That’s exciting considering where we started,” Redmond said. “The last two weeks we had two meets a week, so that all worked out.”
Despite the lack of practice, the Warriors won all four meets. “The girls have done well. They’ve been really working hard to get back into shape,” Redmond said.
All four of the meets so far have been Valley League meets. San Pasqual and Pacific Ridge have joined the Valley League for 2023 while Fallbrook, Escondido, Escondido Charter, Mission Hills, Ramona, and Valley Center all return to the league.
“It makes it more exciting,” Redmond said of an eight-team league.
Redmond has actually coached Fallbrook in an eight-team league. The North County Conference consisted of 16 schools and two leagues before Valley Center High School opened in 1998 and the Valley League was created to join the Avocado League and the Palomar League. Redmond has been Fallbrook High School’s girls swim coach since 1990.
Half of the formula for the Valley League swim championship is based on standings for dual meets and the other half utilizes positions at the league championship meet which will be held April 26-28 at Fallbrook High School. “It’s possible to win every dual meet and still not win the league,” Redmond said. “It puts more emphasis on the whole season and not just one part of it.”
The only non-league dual meet the Warriors have scheduled will be April 18 at home against El Camino. All of Fallbrook’s remaining 2023 dual meets are at home.
The March 14 meet at Palomar College meant that the Warriors did not practice in their own pool until March 15. One advantage Fallbrook had compared to the Warriors’ first three opponents is the number of swimmers. Mission Hills, Valley Center, and Pacific Ridge all lack a junior varsity squad this year, so some of Fallbrook’s JV swimmers participated against varsity competition in those meets. Fallbrook has 24 girls including divers, who may also swim during a meet.
During dual meets, each school is allowed to enter up to three swimmers or divers in each individual event, and position points are given for the top five times or diving scores. Up to three relay teams from each school can compete in each of the three relay races, but only two quartets from each side are scored with position points being given for the top three finishes in each race.
Although Fallbrook won only four of the 11 events against Mission Hills (Palomar College does not have a diving board, so the divers did not compete), position points allowed the Warriors to obtain a 94-68 victory. “I wasn’t looking at the margin of victory. I was pleased with how they swam considering they hadn’t been in for three weeks,” Redmond said. “The margin of victory was a surprise.”
The 400-yard freestyle relay concludes a high school meet, and the score was 82‑66 prior to that race. Fallbrook took both first and second in the event. The winning quartet of junior Tatum Brown, senior Arden Baur, junior Marissa Pearce, and junior Ava Papoulias had a time of 4:16.46, which is a consideration qualifying time for the CIF meet.
The second-place time of 4:40.87 was posted by sophomore Sydney Brown, senior Fiona Wells, senior Stephanie Hanlon, and senior Katja Young.
Papoulias also won the 200-yard freestyle with a consideration time of 2:07.89. A consideration time of 1:17.17 gave Ava Dowden first place in the 100-yard breaststroke. Fallbrook’s other first-place finish was in the 200-yard individual medley; junior Kela Kendall won that race in 2:36.00.
Redmond isn’t disappointed that the Warriors didn’t post an automatic qualifying time. “I was not expecting that,” he said.
Adams Community Park Pool has 25-meter laps. “None of the times matter,” Redmond said.
Redmond and Fallbrook boys coach Bill Richardson focused on the swimmers gaining experience. “Bill and I took the approach that this was another practice,” Redmond said. “The whole thing was to just get in the water and see what we can do.”
Fallbrook’s girls still won. The Warriors had a three-point lead before taking second and third in the 400-yard freestyle relay to create an 85‑84 final score. Fallbrook only garnered first-place points in two events; Papoulias had the winning 100-meter freestyle time of 1:06.96 and Kendall won the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:27.09.
This is the first year Pacific Ridge has had a swim team. “I think it’s fabulous. It’s great for the sport,” Redmond said.
The Firebirds have 12 girls swimmers. “They have some pretty good swimmers. They just don’t have the depth,” Redmond said.
If only one team has a diver the diving is not included in the team score although the divers are scored for CIF qualifying purposes. In the past, a diver had to compete in at least seven events prior to the CIF meet unless the CIF granted a waiver for injury or another legitimate reason such as transfer-related ineligibility, and this year the minimum has been reduced to five meets.
A six-dive score of 195 points or higher automatically qualifies a diver for the CIF meet while the consideration cutoff is 185 points. In their first diving of the season, sophomore Olivia Searle scored 158.15 points while freshman Emylee Turner accumulated 147.35 points.
Fallbrook defeated Pacific Ridge by a 102-67 margin. The Warriors won both freestyle relays and six of the eight individual events but were unable to place both first and second in any race.
Papoulias, Tatum Brown, Dowden, and Baur won the 200-yard freestyle relay in a consideration time of 1:50.31. Papoulias, Kendall, Stephanie Hanlon, and Dowden improved Fallbrook’s 400-yard freestyle consideration time by winning the race in 4:08.44. The swimmers who achieve a qualifying time in a relay race do not need to be the same swimmers to compete in that event at the CIF meet.
Fallbrook’s first automatic qualifying time of the season was achieved March 21 when Dowden won the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:14.72. Redmond noted that Dowden participates in club water polo. “That’s one of the things I think helped her to get an automatic in that,” he said.
Papoulias won two races with consideration times, finishing the 200-yard freestyle in 2:07.95 and the 100-yard freestyle in 59.71 seconds. Dowden won the 50-yard freestyle with a consideration time of 26.81 seconds. Kendall won the 100-yard butterfly in 1:13.17. Stephanie Hanlon had the first-place time of 6:17.75 in the 500-yard freestyle.
Fallbrook took first in 10 of the 11 events against San Pasqual with the Golden Eagles scoring first-place points for the 100-yard backstroke. The final score was 120-50. Fallbrook’s divers were scored for CIF qualifying only with sophomore Maile McMahon obtaining 178.15 points on six dives, Turner receiving a cumulative score of 158.15 points, and Searle garnering 140.30 points.
In three races, the Warriors swept the top three scoring positions. Dowden won the 100-yard freestyle with a consideration time of 56.67 seconds; Baur completed her laps in 1:02.33, and Tatum Brown touched the final wall 1:02.47 after the race began.
Kendall won the 100-yard breaststroke while posting a consideration time of 1:19.82; freshman Claire Lucia had the second-place time of 1:25.00, and senior Victoria McBride finished in 1:27.82. Pearce won the 50-yard freestyle in 27.57 seconds, Baur swam the race in 27.92 seconds, and Tatum Brown took 28.56 seconds.
Fallbrook took first and second in both freestyle relay races. Dowden, Tatum Brown, Kendall, and Pearce won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:51.35 while Samantha Hanlon, Tatum Brown, Stephanie Hanlon, and Papoulias had the second-place time of 1:55.68. Kendall, Baur, Tatum Brown, and Papoulias had the winning 400-yard freestyle time of 4:13.58 with sophomore Liesel Young, freshman Linnea Harrington, junior Kasey Sanchez, and Pearce swimming the race in 4:26.65.
The Warriors took first place in the 200-yard medley relay with Samantha Hanlon, Dowden, Stephanie Hanlon, and Pearce obtaining a consideration time of 2:12.35.
Fallbrook obtained first and second in the 500-yard freestyle with Stephanie Hanlon winning in 6:14.71 and Lucia completing her laps in 6:19.90. Papoulias won the 200-yard freestyle in 2:09.32, which is a consideration time. Dowden won the 200-yard individual medley with a consideration time of 2:28.62. Kendall had a consideration time of 1:08.78 to give Fallbrook first-place points in the 100-yard butterfly.