In an effort to increase the event’s visibility, Los Banos High School has changed the name of the Los Banos Spring Swim Invitational.
So, this weekend swimmers from 10 teams will descend on the Pacheco High pool for the Merced County Championship Swim Meet.
“We’re trying to entice some of the teams from Merced County to come as well as from outside the county,” Los Banos swim coach Drew Guintini said. “We’re trying to give a little more meaning to it.”
Two-time defending meet champion Merced High returns to defend its title after winning by a large margin last year. Host Los Banos finished second.
“They’re strong,” Guintini said. “It’s fun, because we don’t get to swim against them very often. ... It’s good competition, and hopefully a good little tuneup for the league meets at end of the season.”
The Bears will be joined by Pacheco, Hilmar, Dos Palos, Atwater, Patterson, Turlock and Stone Ridge Christian. Los Banos High diving coach Rick Foell will run a diving competition as part of the meet. Another change was to move up the meet by a few weeks to avoid conflicts with proms and other events.
The meet comes the day after Los Banos and Pacheco’s swim teams face off in a league dual meet, making for a long weekend of activity. Both teams will have plenty of similar weekends this spring, but at least this one is all in town.
“Even last week, we went to Ceres on Friday and Johansen on Saturday. At least it’s at home, last week we basically traveled to Modesto twice,” Guintini said. “That’s kind of part of it. They get used to it. It becomes part of the routine, and it’s good practice. You always have to be at the top of your game when you’re a little tired and dragging.”
The weekend will give Guintini and his assistants a chance to evaluate some of the less experienced swimmers on a squad that has swelled to more than 60 athletes. Los Banos High went undefeated in league duals on both the girls and boys sides, but lost a lot of the core swimmers.
“We have a lot of new faces this year, but like any team we’ve had in the past, we’ve been able to work with them to find out our strengths and weaknesses,” Guintini said. “It’s kind of fun, something I haven’t had a chance to do in a while. We’ve had a pretty good base for a while. It’s a good problem to have, because we had a good turnout of kids this year. We’re trying to show them it’s not boring, just swimming back and forth all the time.”