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150 Dolphins improve times at Mid-Valley tri-meet
The Manteca Dolphins finished third during a Mid-Valley Swim League tri-meet with the host Tracy Tritons and Ceres Dolphins, but had 150 of its swimmers improve times in at least one individual event. - photo by James Burns

TRACY – Jason Beier and the Manteca Dolphins coaching staff don’t put much emphasis on meet victories.

To that point, the Mid-Valley Swim League standings don’t paint a very pretty picture for the Dolphins, third a season ago.

Manteca has yet to record a meet win and finished at the bottom of the season-opening invitational, but in a season of great turnover there’s a different definition of “victory” being used on the pool deck at East Union.

“Anytime kids come up to the coaches with smiles across their face because they dropped time,” Beier started, “that’s a win.”

On Saturday, there were smiles abound for the Manteca Dolphins at the Pinkie Phillips Aquatic Center in Tracy.

The Tracy Tritons pulled away for the victory in the tri-meet, totaling 1,188.50 points. The Ceres Dolphins proved its dual meet victory over the Manteca Dolphins two weeks earlier was no fluke, placing second with 979 points. 

The Manteca Dolphins were a close third with 912.50 points, despite a valiant effort from its boys’ contingent. Manteca was second in the boys’ competition with 508 points, just 34.50 points back of Tracy.

There is plenty to be excited about as the season nears the second invitational this weekend in Turlock.

Hayden Beier and Zachary Thomas were the Dolphins’ top scorers with three individual victories.

Beier, a dynamo amongst 7- and 8-year-olds a season ago, has enjoyed similar success in a new age bracket. He touched the wall first in the 100-meter individual medley, 50 backstroke and the 50 freestyle in a spirited dual with teammate Donovan Armstrong. Beier pulled away on the final lap, shaving nearly a second off his personal-best time.

Not to be denied, Armstrong won two events – the 100 freestyle in 1:13.49 and the 50 fly in a personal-best 40.90.

Thomas collected max points in the 100 freestyle (53.84), 100 butterfly (1:02.63) and 50 free (23.71). 

Joining Armstrong as double-event winners were: Michael Garcia, 12, in the 100 freestyle (1:15.03), shaving more than 6 seconds off his fastest recorded time, and the 50 butterfly in a personal-best 40.70; Keira Brink, 6, in the 25 fly (29.35) and 25 free (22.12), both personal-best swims; and Abigail Wagner, 6, in the 25 backstroke and 25 breaststroke, also personal bests. 

Improvement was a running theme for the Dolphins, the Mid-Valley Swim League’s second-largest program and arguably one of its least experienced. More than 100 new swimmers registered this season.

From the season’s start, the Manteca coaching staff has stressed technique and “feeling the water,” coach Beier said. They’re starting to see the fruits of their labor.

The Dolphins had 150 swimmers improve times in at least one individual event. Thirty-six relay teams, spread over six age groups, also improved their times.

“We definitely looked at that,” coach Beier said of the list of improved swimmers following Saturday’s meet. “I was pretty impressed with the majority of our kids dropping anywhere from half a second to some with 15 seconds. It’s pretty impressive, especially for the first-time swimmers. When you see that you know things are clicking relatively well.”


Turlock 1,963, Ripon 1,743 

In Turlock, the Ripon Sea Lions were paced by its girls, which won their grudge match with the Sea Dogs, 1,088-907.