RIVERSIDE — Tyler Lin did not lose a high school boys' swimming race all season.
The Corona del Mar High junior was always first on the scoreboard, but not always in terms of showing emotion. Before Lin's 100-yard breaststroke championship final at the CIF Southern Section Division 1 swimming finals, though, Coach Barry O'Dea said he made sure to say something to make the usually stoic Lin smirk.
"I made sure it was just the right moment where he could hear my voice over everybody else's," O'Dea said. "I'm all, 'Did it work?' He was like, 'Yeah. I can always hear you.'"
In the water, everyone also could hear Lin loud and clear. He was the only Newport-Mesa swimmer to win an individual event at the Division 1 finals Saturday night. He captured that breaststroke in 55.53 seconds, lowering his own school record time from preliminaries.
Lin was part of another strong team effort by the CdM boys as well. After finishing as runner-up each of the last two years, they finished fifth Saturday with 156 points. Their league rival, University, won the CIF title with 337 points.
Lin, who also finished fourth in the 200 individual medley (1:49.14), said he was hoping to go under 55 seconds in the breaststroke. But winning an event at CIF finals always is memorable.
"It's not exactly what I wanted," Lin said. "I'm kind of disappointed. I didn't drop as much as I wanted, but whatever. My turns were kind of poor. It's something to work on … First place is great, but I just really wanted to go a better time because it would help me with the recruiting process."
Princeton-bound CdM senior Liam Karas also had a memorable CIF finals. He finished second in the 200 IM in 1:46.54. The mark would have been an Orange County record if his friend and future college teammate, University's Corey Okubo, didn't swim a very quick 1:45.42. It was the second year in a row that Okubo and Karas finished one-two in the event.
"Of course I wanted to win, because it's my last CIF," Karas said. "I knew it was going to be close. I didn't think he would beat me by a second. My breaststroke split was slower than what I did last year here, because I caught him by a second last year. This year, he beat me on the breaststroke, because he's been working on that a lot more.
Karas came back with a sixth-place finish in the 200 freestyle, finishing in 45.46 seconds.
"I was tired from the IM," Karas said. "The IM really killed my legs. My goal was to go 44, and it was a little off, but I'm still happy with it."
Karas, a dedicated club swimmer who still has always enjoyed high school swimming, said he has plenty of special memories from his time at CdM.
"I'll definitely remember last year's 400 free relay," Karas said. "It was me, Tyler and two senior polo players [Jack Harryman and Richie Barden]. They got me and Tyler really hyped up for that race. It was really fun."
CdM's Karas, Justin Hanson, Patrick Ong and Lin finished seventh in this year's 400 free relay in 3:07.11. The CdM quartet of Ethan Archer, Lin, Hanson and Karas also placed fourth in the 200 medley relay, in 1:32.18, just off school-record pace.
Hanson was 11th in the 200 IM in 1:51.33, as well as 11th in the butterfly in 49.97. His younger brother, Tim Hanson, was 15th in the 500 free, in 4:35.16. Archer was 18th in the backstroke, in 51.71.
Karas is the only graduating senior from the Sea Kings' CIF team this year, so the future appears bright.
"I think we're going to get some much better freestyle swims next year," O'Dea said. "I think they all kind of learned their lesson, that they need to be consistent. Maturity is a big deal. We were pretty young."
That also is the case across the bay at Newport Harbor. A highlight Saturday was provided by junior Hayden Hemmens, who won the consolation final of the 200 freestyle in 1:39.45.
"It's the biggest stage he's ever been on and he absolutely executed a race plan that was brilliant," Newport first-year coach Trevor Basil said. "He was fast the first 100, picked it up on that third 50 and just held on coming home. It was absolutely a brilliant race."
Hemmens also was a part of two relays. Jason Trzeciecki, Dominik Folkner, Jack Mooers and Hemmens finished 12th in the 200 free relay in 1:25.95. And Newport's Hemmens, Folkner, Sawyer Farmer and Trzeciecki placed 14th in the 400 free relay in 3:09.72.
Basil said the school record in the 400 free relay is a 3:07, a record that Olympian Aaron Peirsol helped set during his time with the Sailors.
"We'll get that record next year," Basil said. "All four of those guys are coming back. That 3:07 is going down."