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The Saratoga Falcon

Boys’ swim team named Swimming World Magazine National Champions

National champions.
Until now these two words were never before associated with Saratoga High athletics, but after an stunning performance in last May’s CCS swimming tournament, which included several national times and national record-breaking relay, the 2009 boys’ team was crowned national champions by Swimming World Magazine in its Sept. 5 issue.

Since there are no state or national meets for swimming, Swimming World Magazine compiles results from meets around the country to simulate a national meet. When all meets were taken into account, the Falcons came out on top, beating second place Baylor School of Chattanooga, Tenn., by 9.5 points.

“The victory came as a huge surprise,” said swimming coach Christian Bonner. “We didn’t even win our league because of a lack of depth, but our core group showed what they could do at the CCS meet and now they have a national championship to show for it.”

In addition, the Falcons finished second at the CCS tournament because Bellarmine High School had 11 finalists compared to Saratoga’s six and grabbed more points to win the meet. But only two of the Bellarmine swimmers finished in the top 16 nationally. The Falcons had five national finalists, making them the best team in the country according to the magazine.

“Saratoga overcame its lack of depth by relying on the immense quality at its tight-knit core,” said writer Dan Albano. “And by the end of the season the Falcons established a new standard of excellence- and not just at Saratoga,”

Ben Hinshaw, now training for his first season with the UC Berkeley swim team, led the way, placing in the top four in his two individual events and two relays events, earning second in the 500-yard freestyle and fourth in the 200-yard IM.

The 400-yard freestyle relay team, consisting of Hinshaw, fellow graduate Matt Murray, junior Adam Hinshaw and sophomore Ian Burns, set a new national record at CCS finals in May, winning SHS their only first place in the national rankings. The 200-yard medley relay consisting of B. Hinshaw, Murray, Burns and graduate Brad Murray finished third, missing first place by less than a second.

M. Murray was also a strong presence in the national standings, finishing fourth in the 100-yard backstroke and .07 seconds outside the top 16 in the 100-yard butterfly. A. Hinshaw finished as the top sophomore in the 500-yard freestyle in eleventh place.

“At CCS, I was just trying to fight for second place behind Ben,” said A. Hinshaw. “When I saw my time, I knew it was fast but I definitely didn’t know it was the top sophomore time in the country.”

This is the first national championship for any sport in Saratoga High history. The national meet sheet published in Swimming World Magazine was accompanied by a four-page article on the team.

The article also touched the key relationships among teammates and accomplishments outside of high school swimming.

The strong team will struggle to match last year’s results after losing B. Hinshaw, M. Murray and B. Murray, who are swimming at Division I colleges. Along with A. Hinshaw and Burns, CCS qualifiers seniors Kyle Borch and Michael Zhang, juniors Justin Chung and Tim Rollinson, sophomore Mac Hyde and former CCS champion and new addition senior Mark Liu will look to fill the holes.

“We don’t have the same talent we did last year,” said Hinshaw. “But if some swimmers fill in relay spots and [reach the] finals in individual events, we can have another great year at CCS.”

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