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Former coach’s surprise visit boosts Dolphins

Bergamo welcomed back with 1,000 IM challenge

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Former coach’s surprise visit boosts Dolphins

The Manteca Dolphins’ boys 13-14 relay team, from the left: Scott Tolman, Jimmy Burke, Trevor Allen and Johnny Buonauro. Burke recently met his season time goals, winning a bet with the coaching st...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin


POSTED July 20, 2013 2:22 a.m.

LATHROP – The Manteca Dolphins received a considerable boost heading into today’s Mid-Valley Swim League Championship.

Head coach Jeanie Bergamo has returned to the Dolphins, one month after leaving the recreational swim program to be with her fiancé, Chris Kohl, and family in Tennessee.

Her return was kept a secret by team president Lori Brubaker, who had known for weeks that the second-year coach would fly back to watch the championships.

Bergamo surprised the team during its evening practice Thursday at Lathrop High, the site of today’s meet.

“I didn’t tell anybody,” Brubaker said. “The kids had no idea. When she walked in (Thursday night), the kids were like, ‘Jeanie!’ ”

Bergamo will re-join a coaching staff that has lifted the Dolphins to a turnaround season. Jason Beier and Chabre Basile were named co-head coaches following Bergamo’s departure. Victoria Ramos and Niki DeGeorge are assistants.

Basile won’t be able to attend today’s championship. Bergamo is expected to help fill her void.

The Dolphins surge into today’s meet following a banner season. Manteca saw its participation increase by 12 members over last year’s count, and the team collected its first invitational trophies in at least seven years with third-place showings at each invite. 

Four swimmers are favored to win MVSL’s final high-point awards: Scott Tolman (13-14), Mallory Brubaker (11-12), Ashlynn See (7-8) and Hayden Beier (7-8).

Bergamo, who was named head coach in May 2012, will get chance to cheer them on – all of them.

“She’s a great mentor,” Lori Brubaker said, “and a great person.”

The Mid-Valley Swim League is comprised of seven teams, including: the Manteca Dolphins, Tracy Tritons, Ripon Sea Lions, Oakdale Gators, Hughson Sea Dogs, Modesto Waves and Ceres Dolphins.

The championship meet will begin at 8 a.m. The meet is projected to run into the night, with last swim scheduled for 8 o’clock.

Worth a 1,000 yards

Roles were reversed on Friday morning for Manteca Dolphins coaches Bergamo, Beier, DeGeorge and Ramos.

Each one had to trade street clothes for swim wear in order to make good on a wager with swimmer Jimmy Burke, a standout in the 13- to 14-year-old age group.

Earlier in the season, Bergamo challenged Burke with a set of goals. Among other things, he was tasked with lowering his times in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle to below 28 seconds and a minute, respectively.

“If he did that and few others the coaches would have to swim a 1,000 IM (individual medley),” said Brubaker.

On Friday, with swimmers collecting around the blocks on the Lathrop High pool deck, the coaches got wet. Beier sprang from the block, while Bergamo performed a “monster” butterfly. Each completed the four necessary strokes: freestyle, breast, back and butterfly.

“I paid my debt today to one of my swimmers with a 1000 IM,” Bergamo wrote on the team’s Facebook page. “That’s right … a 1000!!! As in a lot of laps of every single stroke. It was not pretty … but I did finish.”

Final swim

Sierra High’s Johnny Buonauro will likely swim his last races for the Dolphins at today’s championships.

Buonauro will begin at year-round program with Ripon Aquatics, joining current teammates Scott Tolman and Mallory Brubaker.

A member of the 13-14 record-setting 200 medley relay team, Buonauro’s individual card at today’s championships include: the 100 freestyle, 100 IM and 50 backstroke.

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