CORONA DEL MAR — The arrow keeps pointing up for the girls' aquatics program at Corona del Mar High.
Last month, the Sea Kings won their first girls' water polo CIF title in seven years, and first overall in CIF Southern Section Division 1.
On Wednesday at CdM, the girls' swimmers showed they are closing the gap on perennial power and rival University.
The Trojans pulled away late at the CdM pool, earning a 94-76 victory in the Pacific Coast League meet. The Uni boys made it a sweep, as they defeated CdM, 90-80.
But the CdM girls took pride in knowing that they battled University, the 2011 Division 1 champion that finished second in Division 1 last year by a single point to JSerra, to a standstill for much of the meet.
"I just wish my former student would quit beating me," CdM Coach Doug Volding said with a laugh of losing to Uni girls' head coach Robin Jacobsen, a CdM alumna. "It's getting old. We'll keep plugging away."
Volding has perhaps his best CdM team since winning the Division 2 title in 2006. The swims were plenty fast Wednesday for the Sea Kings (1-1 in league).
CdM junior Stephanie Samudro, a transfer from San Marino, and University of Texas-bound senior Brynne Wong took the top two spots in the 100-yard butterfly. Samudro touched in 57.11 seconds, followed by Wong in 57.55; both are Division 1 automatic times.
Wong also captured the 50 freestyle, in 24.58 seconds, followed by CdM senior Ioanna Haralabidis in 24.85. Additions like the Haralabidis twins, Ioanna and Stephania, as well as Samudro, have CdM thinking big this year.
"We always try to win," said BYU-bound senior Ally McCormick, who won the 200 free in 1:57.44. "We were really going to have to come up big in some races [to beat Uni]... but obviously compared to years previous, it's so exciting. It really did come down to the [end]. We got a couple extra club swimmers and obviously, with the Greeks, we have fast relays. It's exciting, definitely.
"We're not just a freestyle team. We have girls who do backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke, which helps us against teams like this. I think we're just all more excited, because we know we have the ability to do well."
McCormick, the Haralabidis sisters and Wong won the 200 free relay in 1:39.30. CdM's "B" relay of Eliza Britt, Shannon Frome, Sami Pratt and Grace Morgan finished third, and CdM pulled to a 62-62 tie with three events left.
But University senior Cheyenne Low captured the backstroke, and the Trojans' Maggie Burton and Catherine Lowengrub went one-two in the breaststroke, taking away CdM's momentum. CdM's 400 free relay swam a season-best time of 3:34.52, but Uni also won that final race.
"I knew going in, they'd really be tough in the breaststroke," Volding said. "In backstroke, we got swept last week by Woodbridge, so I threw in some new people [Stephania Haralabidis and McCormick] and they did pretty well. They held their own. And the 400 free relay just keeps getting faster, so I'm very pleased.
"Uni is the standard, you know. They're a great team, and we have definitely improved. I'm real proud of the girls."
Christian Garkani paced the CdM boys, winning the 200 free (1:43.68) and 100 back (51.72). He was also part of the winning 200 medley and 400 free relay. The 400 free relay team, of Liam Karas, Reid Chase, Tyler Lin and Garkani, touched in 3:12.49, out-touching Uni by 0.11 seconds.
CdM junior Liam Karas captured the 100 free in 47.66, and the Sea Kings' Karas, Ashton Jajonie, Richie Barden and Chase combined to win the 200 free relay in 1:29.01. Again, CdM out-touched Uni by 0.11 seconds, while CdM's "B" relay was third in 1:30.18.
"We split our 200 free relay, we were hoping to grab 1-2 there," CdM boys' coach Barry O'Dea said. "It was close. That could have changed the complexion of the meet, and we needed some other things to happen earlier. Our freestyle guys, we needed them to do a little bit better than they did. But the Uni guys, that's the fastest their 50 guys have gone all year, and the fastest their 100 guys have gone all year. Give them a lot of credit. They were pumped up and ready to go today. Hopefully we can turn around and recover."
The CdM boys (1-1 in league) play host to Capistrano Valley, Loyola of Los Angeles and Edison in an intriguing meet Thursday. The teams took the top four spots in the Division 1 finals last year, paced by champion Capo Valley.
O'Dea said Thursday's meet will not be set up as a series of dual meets, as it has in the past, but instead scored like a CIF finals meet.
"I think it's fun," O'Dea said. "It keeps swimming interesting for a lot of the guys. It's going to be just like a midseason CIF."