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A steady climb
East Union junior takes her swimming to the next level
Julia DeGroot

2011 Bulletin All-Area Girls Swimming Team


Kara Hall, Sierra – Hall put together her third straight championship season, earning the 200 IM league championship on her way to guiding the Timberwolves back to the Valley Oak League girls championship.

Niki DeGeorge, Sierra
– Has been a key part of the nucleus that has made Sierra arguably the league’s best program over the past four seasons. DeGeorge’s season was good enough to earn a spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section trials for the third straight season.

Christina Ngo, Sierra – Teamed up with her Sierra crew to close out a decorated Timberwolves career with the VOL league title. Ngo earned a spot in the section trials for the third season.

Nady Harding, Ripon – Landed a berth in to the Sac-Joaquin Section Trials for the up-and-coming Ripon High program, and will be a formidable component for the program in the immediate future.

East Union High’s Julia DeGroot made it to the Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Championships for the second straight year.

DeGroot fell just short of a perfect scenario at the section meet leaving the 2011 Bulletin’s All-Area Swimmer of the Year one more shot at a section run.

DeGroot was the unmistakable standout for an East Union program that has seen better seasons. She was the only Lancer to advance into the section championships, representing her program respectively with a good 200 free showing and nearly advancing in her go-to event, the 500 free.

“The competition was a lot steeper than it was in the sections last year,” DeGroot said. “Last year I was just swimming frosh and this year was varsity, so that was obviously one thing. Looking at the times last year, I thought I could make it to finals, this year the times were way lower and the meet’s intensity was way higher.

“I was very happy to get to where I got in the meet.”

DeGroot put together a solid showcase, just missing advancing to the section finals in her 500-free event. The Lancer standout was able to nab one of two alternate spots in the event, yet found her times off the pace that landed DeGroot a Valley Oak League championship with a time of 5:25.87. DeGroot was also a VOL champion in the 200 free, fulfilling one of the immediate goals that she opened the 2011 season with.

“I wanted to try and make as many of the section championship cuts as I possibly could,” DeGroot said. “I came into the season wanting to swim in more of a variety of events than I did last season. Last year, I pretty much just swam the 100 fly and the 500 (free) all year, so I really wanted to broaden my repertoire and see what I could do.”

At different times during the season DeGroot competed in the 200 IM, 200 free, 500 free, 100 fly, 200 medley and the 400 medley. East Union’s program has seen better days in recent memory, yet will have to make a formidable climb to compete with the VOL’s most competitive programs.

“This year our team grew a lot in numbers,” DeGroot said. “And if we can sort of advertise for the sport and get our school more involved things will get better. All we need to do is become closer as a team, so we can work harder together to try and get to the level of the Sierra’s and Oakdale’s.”

Individually, DeGroot knows all of her primary counterparts among the league standouts, but has no desire to rank herself atop the list of the VOL’s top swimmers.

“I honestly don’t see myself as one of the best swimmers,” a humble DeGroot said. “I am just trying to become better than I am. I always feel that I can improve. I remember at the Sierra race I was so nervous because I was going against Niki DeGeorge and I knew it would be a close race.

“I still have a desire to be better than I am, I surely don’t think that I am the best out there.”

DeGroot has embraced a role as a leader of the program versus shunning it, and carries an earnest desire for the program to reestablish itself amongst the VOL elites. Helping raise the bar for the program begins with DeGroot and the returning senior is more than optimistic about her chances at outdoing her previous two trips to sections.

“I do see myself making it to sections again next season,” DeGroot said. “As of right now I am still in the pool, so if I continue swimming throughout the summer and for the entire year, like I plan on doing, I should be able to get there.”