CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Aug. 22, 2023) — Dana Hills Swim Team of Clayton swam to its third consecutive Contra Costa County championship this month while Gehringer Park took its third Concord City Meet B Division title in four tries at the end of July in the two season-ending meets for recreation swimming.
Dana Hills has won the last three Division I County Meet championships in highly contested battles with runner-up Rancho San Miguel of Walnut Creek. The two teams finished 1-2 for the third successive time.
The County Meet was two weeks after the Concord Swimming Championships where the Otters won the A title for the 30th time in the last 31 City Meets. Gehringer Park won the city B Division for the third time in four meets after taking second place in 2022.
Dana Hills had seven of the 12 high point A Division award winners. Sisters Chooch Branich (6 and under), Charley Branich (7-8) and Cole Branich (9-10) won top girls honors while Rory Lynch (6 and under), JJ Westerbrook (11-12), Rhys Delaney (13-14) and Shawn Canada (15-18) were boys winners for the Otters.
The other high point girls were Samanatha Mayrena (11-12) and Alexis Steffensen (13-14) from Forest Park and Airi Seib (15-18) for the Pleasant Hill Dolfins. Maclaine Grisafi (7-8) of Gehringer Park and Robert Griffith (9-10) of Oakhurst rounded out the boys winners.
Both of the outstanding relays were from Dana Hills. The 15-18 girls medley relay of Zoe Lahanas, Maya Canada, Gianna Kougios and Abigail Adent sent a new record, as did the 15-18 freestyle DHST boys of Damik Von Fanos, Dominic Vines, Jack Parker and Shawn Canada.
Other meet records were set in the 15-18 100 breast with Maya Canada breaking her own record from 2022 and the DHST 15-18 girls set a new free relay mark with Kougios, Adent, Lahanas and Mandy Meyers.
Dana Hills had its usual dominance in the relays with seven free and 10 medley relay championships.
Gehringer Park won the coveted team sportsmanship award.
Otters atop the County again
Dana Hills head coach Nikki Palmer talked about the competitive County Meet as her team rallied to take its third title in a row. “We knew going in if we could stay within 100 points of Rancho San Miguel (primarily a breaststroke heavy team) after Day 1, winning again would be within reach. We are a very backstroke/butterfly heavy team and had great depth in our relays, which helped us pull ahead by Sunday afternoon.”
Because there was a two-week gap between city and county meets, Dana Hills was missing a few swimmers who were on family vacations or leaving for school.
“We were down a few swimmers going in for county weekend, however we tried to keep the focus the same — ‘last one, fast one.’ You could tell by the break Sunday just based on the energy that we had it. It was an awesome way to finish our season, and I am so proud of every single county swimmer on that team, as it was a team effort. We truly could not have done it without every single relay swimmer.”
Final scoring had Dana Hills with 1870 points and Rancho San Miguel 1665.5. Pleasant Hill Aquatics was 10th in Division I.
Ygnacio Wood was seventh, Gehringer Park 15th and Pleasant Hill Dolfins 16th in Division II. Springwood, which won Division III a year ago, was fourth this time around.
Palmer lauded her team’s relay depth as a key factor in defending their team title. She noted the 7-8 girls free relay of Brooklyn Wahrlich, Cora White, Meritt Pak and Charley Branich both girls 15-18 relays and the 15-18 boys medley and free relays of Van Fanos, Parker, Vines and Canada. All four of the 15-18 boys aged out after the meet.
Chooch Banich was high point in girls six and under and her sister Charley Branich was second in 7-8 girls for Dana Hills.
Seib of Pleasant Hill Dolfins was again the 15-18 high point girl while Conor Halley-McCarty of Pleasant Hill Aquatics was second and Tommy Martin of Ygnacio Wood third in 15-18 boys.
City Meet Team Scores
A Division: Dana Hills Otters 1162 points, Ygnacio Wood Seahorses 582, Gehringer Park Gators 440, Forest Hills Beavers 383.5, Pleasant Hill Dolfins 375.5, Oakhurst Orcas 231, Forest Park Flyers 188, Springwood Sprinters 164, Walnut Country Stingrays 141.5, Crockett Crockett-iles 131.5, Bishop Estates Cudas 73, Vista Diablo Dolphins 34.
B Division: Gehringer Park 334, Dana Hills 286, Pleasant Hill Dolfins 271.5, Ygnacio Wood 239, Springwood 187, Oakhurst 173.5, Forest Hills 169, Forest Park 137, Bishop Estates 122, Walnut Country 115, Crockett 99, Vista Diablo 47.
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.