The Catalina Foothills boys and girls swim teams knew that they were coming into Saturday's Ford Aquatics High School Classic at less than full strength.
Just a week ago, they were competing in the Brophy/ Xavier Invitational, where both the boys and girls teams took fourth, and the team as a whole took fifth. On Saturday, they were facing another major invitational, competing against 41 other schools with a combined total of 939 swimmers.
So coach Ed Walter knew to temper his expectations when he arrived at UA's Hillenbrand Aquatic Center.
"We get up for the Brophy meet quite a bit," Walter said. "It's an important meet for us. But the kids that didn't drop their times last week did today, and those who did drop their times, kept them low. It's pretty tough to go to that meet, turn around seven days later, and go faster, but we did a good job."
Despite the physical toll of having two major invitationals in two weeks, the Falcons were able to take fourth in the girls standings, fifth in the boys and fifth in the combined team scores, the highest finish for a Southern Arizona team.
Sophomore Matt Lujan was the only Foothills swimmer to place first in an individual event, taking the top spot in the 100-yard backstroke. He also took third in the 200 IM and swam on the second-place 200 medley relay team.
"You're always going to do well in one or the other, but not both," Lujan said. "You don't really have two good meets in a row, so today went pretty much as I expected it would. I'm happy with how it went. Coach gave us some extra rest time during the week to help get us ready for today."
The Foothills girls had a strong showing as well. Krista Duffield came in second in the 100 freestyle and helped the 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay teams to second- and fourth-place finishes. Bonnie Diamond took second in the 500 freestyle, beating out Rincon/University standout Brianna Leverenz by just over a second. Leverenz also took fourth in the 200 freestyle, and her Rangers placed seventh in the combined scores.
The Ironwood Ridge girls had a solid day. And for the Nighthawks' Sara Borendame, Saturday was the only chance to qualify for the state meet. With the rest of her calendar filled up with recruiting trips, any slip or missed stroke could have cost last year's 100 breast stroke state champion a shot to defend her crown.
"Today actually went better than I had expected it would," she said. "Since this is the only invitational I could get to, I just wanted to make sure I qualified for my races."
At the end of the day, Borendame qualified in all four of her events, winning the top spots in the 200 IM and the 100 breast stroke as well as helping her 200 medley relay team take first. Her 400 freestyle relay team came in fourth.
In other boys results, Walden Grove junior Trey Cashion placed first in the 100 freestyle and second in the 50 freestyle.
"It's a midseason meet, so I was concerned I wouldn't be fully rested and be able to put up my best times," Cashion said. "I thought I did well today, though, so I'm happy."
Results / B11