Merced College swimmers head to state meet

slynch@mercedsun-star.comApril 24, 2013 

— Ryan Randall has one goal this week. He wants to break records.

More specifically, he wants to break his former coach's record.

Merced High swim coach Kit Grattan's time of 9:54.20 in the 1,000-yard freestyle has stood as the Merced College mark for 29 years. Randall sees no point in making it an even 30.

"I'm .8 seconds off of coach Grattan's 1,000 time," Randall said. "I've been gunning for records for the past three years, basically since I was in high school. It's about time I get one."

There's no better place to do it than at the 2013 CCCAA Swim & Dive State Championships which get under way today at East L.A. College. The three-day meet runs through Saturday.

It would be a nice end to a strange year and a half for the MC sophomore.

Two coaching changes at four-year schools in Ohio and South Carolina prompted Randall to return back home for his sophomore season.

Things have gone pretty well with Randall qualifying for the maximum three individual events (the 200, 500 and 1,650 freestyles) at the state meet .

Randall isn't the only Blue Devil headed to the meet with high expectations.

Connor Greene and Luke Baum (100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke and 200 individual medley) each also qualified for three individual events, and the trio will combine with Kolby Ellett to swim in four relays.

Greene heads down south ranked No. 1 in the 100 breaststroke, and he and Baum are 1-2 in the 200 breast after swimming the fastest times in California this year at last week's Bay Valley Conference Championships.

"It's pretty cool going in as the No. 1 seed, but there's also some pressure that comes with that," Greene said. "We're going up against the best of the best now and you want to be able to show what you can do.

"I think all of us are going expecting to swim our best times, not just of the year, but of our lives.

"If we can do that, some good things should happen."

As an act of solidarity, the four Blue Devils were all sporting freshly shaved heads on Tuesday afternoon. If it helps shave half a second off of their times, all the better.

MC men's coach Scott McCall thinks this group has a chance to make as big a mark at the state meet as any Blue Devil participants in recent memory.

"I think qualifying for the relays was particularly big, because the more guys you get to bring down, the more fun it is," McCall said. "As you can see by their shiny heads, they're a close group and that should help them push each other.

"I think there's going to be some fast times this week and I'm excited to see what we can do."

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