Los Gatos Weekly Times

Palo Alto junior fastest swimmer in state

Paly's Ethan Harrington breaks CIF meet record in 50 free

- By Vytas Mazeika

Ethan Harrington is not an imposing 16-year-old.

He stands 5 feet, 9 ¾ inches tall.

Neverthele­ss, the junior at Palo Alto is the newlycrown­ed fastest swimmer in the California Interschol­astic Federation.

During the CIF state swimming and diving championsh­ips May 14 at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex, Harrington swept the 50- and 100-yard freestyle titles.

Los Altos grad Albert Gwo set a record time of 19.90 in the 50 free in the state finals in 2015.

Harrington touched the wall five-hundredths of a second quicker at 19.85.

“It was pretty much my meet goal to get the record and win,” Harrington said. “But the 50 is really fast. Really, anything could've happened.”

He added: “I saw the people next to me sneaking up slowly. They were catching up and I knew that I needed to get 19.8 or faster — and I was very happy to see it.”

A week earlier, Harrington swam a personalbe­st 19.75 in the 50 free to break the 2009 Central Coast Section record set by former Valley Christian standout Shayne Fleming, a towering figure at 6 feet, 7 inches.

Except in the pool, it's not always about height and length.

“It's all about twitch, rhythm,” Paly coach Danny Dye said. “Ethan just does

a great job of grabbing the water with his underwater dolphin kick that he just moves. And he's just so fast off the block. His explosion and those first three kicks, I don't care how tall you are, you ain't getting him.”

Harrington finished nearly a half a second ahead of the runner-up in the 100 free and swam the opening leg of the 200 free relay, which finished an excruciati­ngly .03 behind state champion Northgate with its quartet of Kyle Kengla, Scott Mcmillan, Andrew Hallett and Mason Wendler.

“We still got second in state, so it's definitely not

a bad swim,” Harrington said.

In the end, Palo Alto finished third as a team behind the Socal duo of Loyola and Santa Margarita, while Northgate and De La Salle out of the North Coast Section claimed fourth and fifth, respective­ly, in the first state meet held since 2019 because to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When you stop, you sit and you look back, you think about where you were two years ago, and then where you were one year ago, and then you walk out of that swimming complex after a state meet and you

see a season complete,” said Dye, who noted the Vikings finished as the top public school in the state, “and you see the kids able to enjoy it, as a coach you're just place, records, times, it's all out the window. Just seeing the smiles on the kids' faces, seeing life coming back, it just lets you know that there's a future again and it's bright.”

Elsewhere in the pool

The CCS and NCS produced plenty of podium performanc­es, virtually too many to mention. … In 1-meter diving, Castilleja's Paige Lai placed third

and Cupertino's Raphael Tourette took second for the girls and boys, respective­ly. … The Sacred Heart Prep girls finished third in the 200 medley relay, just ahead of Monte Vista and Campolindo. … SHP'S Kaia Li (200 individual medley) and Audrey J-cheng (100 breaststro­ke) both claimed third, with Gilroy's Zoey Zeller a runner-up in the 200 IM and out-touched by .03 for fourth in the 100 breast. … San Mateo's Parker Del Balso finished third in the girls 100 backstroke. … St. Francis' Abby Wickersham took fourth in the 100 free and tied for

sixth in the 50 free. … Archbishop Mitty's Stephanie Sifferman placed fourth in the 200 free, while Carondelet's Stephanie Iannaccone finished fifth in the 100 butterfly. … On the boys' side, Granada saw Jack Hendrick claim fourth in the 500 free and Jacques Grove finish fifth in the 100 fly. … Mitty's Anthony Sebastian took fourth in the 100 breast. … Northgate came in fourth in its two other relays, with De La Salle third in the 200 medley relay to open the Saturday's finals and Paly touching the wall in third during the 400 free relay to close out the meet.

 ?? SHAE HAMMOND — STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Palo Alto's Ethan Harrington, shown here smiling after breaking a meet record during the Central Coast Section swimming championsh­ips, broke the CIF state meet record on May 14in the 50-yard freestyle in Clovis.
SHAE HAMMOND — STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER Palo Alto's Ethan Harrington, shown here smiling after breaking a meet record during the Central Coast Section swimming championsh­ips, broke the CIF state meet record on May 14in the 50-yard freestyle in Clovis.

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