LIHU‘E — Kayana “Ana” Yamaguchi, 13, had a perfect meet, and Ryan Valenciano and Micah Kamuela Nobriga-Ferris missed being perfect by just a fraction of a second at the Fun Meet hosted by Mokihana Aquatics over the weekend at the Kaua‘i High School pool.
Coach Orlando “O” Anaya, head coach for Mokihana Aquatics, said looking at the results made him think of what he described as a “Wow” Fun Meet several years ago.
“As a coach, I see things in races which I sometimes think only I see,” Anaya said in an email. “When results support what I saw, it is very rewarding, and what I saw is supported by results.”
Yamaguchi, swimming in a new age group for the first time since turning 13, finished with a pair of first places, a pair of seconds, a third and a fourth, improving in all of the six events she swam.
Her best event came in the 200 Individual Medley where, in addition to pocketing gold, chopped 12.94 off her seeded time, touching on a 3:08:44 ahead of Chloe Garcia of the Aloha Aquatics club who was attempting the event for the first time, touching in second at 3:21.03, eclipsing Yamaguchi’s seeded time of 3:21.38.
Aloha Aquatics was one of six off-island clubs who fielded swimmers for the two-day event, the other clubs being the Hickam Hurricanes, the Warrior Aquatic Club, the Hilo Aqautic Club and Pearl City Aquatics.
Aimee Iwamoto, 12, of Pearl City proved to be one of the stars who stunned people with her strength and performance over the likes of Makamae Auwae of Warrior Aquatics and Brianna Brunner of Aloha Aquatics and Mokihana Aquatics’ own Gracie Stokes.
Stokes, 12, seeded in 10 events, finished the meet with improvements in eight of the 10 events, her biggest gain coming in the 200 IM where she finished eighth, but chopping 13.24 off her seeded time on a 3:06:58 swim.
Stokes gave spectators a thrill in a battle for the wall against Taylor Ward of the Hickam Hurricanes in the 100 Backstroke where the training partner of Yamaguchi had already given up the top spot to Pearl City’s Iwamoto (1:06.86).
Off the blocks, Stokes was able to build a slight lead over Ward, only to exchange places at the 75-yard mark. Heading home, Stokes regained the lead against Ward who was just inches behind.
With about a yard left, Ward closing fast, Stokes, mimicking a mermaid, slipped below the surface and with a strong kick, glided to the wall just inches ahead of Ward, stopping the clock on a 1:25.95 swim, bettering her 1:26.88 seeded time.
Valenciano, 16, finished with five second places and a third place in his six events, posting improvements in all but one event where he came .17 second short of being perfect.
Valenciano, the team leader for the Fun Meet, was selected as the Fun Meet 2011 Swimmer of the Meet by the Mokihana Aquatics coaching staff.
“There were nine swimmers who were in contention for the prestigious coaches’ pick for the swimer of the meet honor,” Anaya said in an email.
“A very tough choice, but we had to look at what these nine swimmers offered beyond great swims. When we did that, the choice became crystal clear — it’s not just what we do at a race, it’s so much more.”
Valenciano’s strongest swim came in the 100 Breaststroke where he sliced 4.59 off his seeded time (1:14.19), finishing second to fellow Mokihana swimmer Bryson Baligad who touched at 1:13.28, also an improvement over his seeded 1:23.62.
Nobriga-Ferris, 14, was pitted against Christian Chiffy of the Hickam Hurricanes, Nobriga-Ferris getting gold on a 1:23.44 swim over his seeded 1:27.59 over Chiffy.
Baligad finished the meet with six golds in six events, earning qualifying times in all of his events.
Nobriga-Ferris finished with three golds, a silver and a pair of bronzes, his best showing coming in the 100 Breaststroke.
Luke Roberts, 10, finished with just one gold, but showed improvements in eight of his 10 seeded events, the biggest gain coming in the 200 IM where he chopped 18.59 on a fourth finish (3:28.67).
He also pocked a qualifying time with a second finish in the 50 Breaststroke (46.41), an improvement of 2.34 over his seeded time.
Marcus Robinson, 10, also posted eight improvements over 10 events, his strongest showing coming with a fifth finish in the 200 IM (3:29.02), a 27.22 gain over his seeded time.
Christopher Harvey, 8, swimming a big meet for the first time, posted some nice numbers despite some DQs, his best showing coming with a second finish in the 50 Backstroke where he touched in 1:14.29, posting a 40.42 gain.
Tory Taboniar, 10, was also a first-timer at a big meet, finishing with two first finishes, a second, and three third places among his hardware.
He pocketed two Hawai‘i A time standards in the 50 Breaststroke (55.59) and the 50 Backstroke (50.59).