Over 800 swimmers took part in the Speedo Southwestern Invite held at the Castaic Aquatics Center from Friday through Sunday.
“It’s the first time that we’re doing this Speedo Southwestern Invite here in Santa Clarita (Valley), and it’s a prelims-finals type of event,” said Canyons Aquatics Club board member Leah Hussein, who added that the event and its participants were going strong despite the chilly winter weather. “We’ve been through worse weather before with rain and stuff. Like this is a little colder than normal. But you know, we’re happy with the facilities. They’re holding up well.”
The swim meet featured hundreds of young swimmers from various clubs across Southern California separated into brackets based by age, with the participants’ ages spanning from 7 to 18.
According to the organizers, two Santa Clarita Valley swim clubs placed in the overall top five of the teams competing, with the host Canyons Aquatic Club winning the overall championship and the Paseo Aquatics Swim Team finishing in third.
The top five teams and their scores were:
• First Place – Canyons Aquatic Club (6,814 points).
• Second Place – Rose Bowl Aquatics, from the Pasadena area (5,994 points).
• Third Place – Paseo Aquatics Swim Team (2,784 points).
• Fourth Place – Blast Sharks, from the Burbank/L.A. area (2,428 points).
5th Place – Los Angeles Swim Club (1,581 points).
Local swimmers taking first place in their events included Emma Hussein (Canyons) with a 2:07:59 in the 14-year-olds’ 200-yard backstroke, and Serenity Bartlett (Paseo) with a 31.13 in the 10-year-old group for 50-yard butterfly. Jace Lloyd (Canyons) won the 13-year-old 200-yard backstroke in 2:00:44 and Noah Lawas (Paseo) won the 14-year-old 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:07:23.
The meet was one of several large, high-level swim meets hosted by Canyons Aquatics Club, including the 16th annual Cranberry Classic held at the Santa Clarita Aquatics Center in November.
“We host about four large invitational meets like this per year,” said Canyons Aquatics Club volunteer coordinator Danielle Lloyd. “Several of those are high-level, championship meets. We host Southern California Swimming Championship meets, like Junior Olympics, age group championships. And then, we have also been asked by USA Swimming several times in the past to host national-level meets like Speedo Sectionals and USA Futures swimming championships.”
“Over 80% of what happens in running a swim meet is all done by our parent volunteers,” said Lloyd. “The only people that are paid on deck at a swim meet are the meet officials. Everyone else involved with running a swim meet, from our swimming timers to the people who are helping out with our meet referees, to our deck marshals keeping everyone safe — everyone is a parent volunteer.”
Lloyd has been a volunteer coordinator for six years and was initially inspired to join the Canyons Aquatics Club by her children, who are swimmers themselves.
“I remember being a young swim parent, not really knowing how all of this works, and a lot of it really bases on educating our parents about the sport, about the team, about how things work at meets,” Lloyd said. “It’s a very rewarding job. It’s very wonderful for me to be able to support our team, see our team flourish, see the fact that we are one of the only teams in Southern California swimming that can really handle hosting meets at this level.”