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Water Wings : When Orange Junior Edoff Swims 100, 200, She's Hard to Catch


ORANGE — In one of Alyson Edoff's recent dreams, she steps up to the blocks to start her race in the 200 freestyle. But when she looks into the pool, there's no water.

That can mean only one thing for Edoff: There's some serious competition coming up.

"I dream about swimming a lot," said Edoff, a junior at Orange High. "But it seems when a big competition gets closer, I have some really weird dreams about it."

Edoff is set to compete in the 200 and 100 freestyle races tonight in the Southern Section Division I finals at Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach. Competition begins at 6:30.

While Edoff has recorded the county's second-fastest time in the 200 free (1 minute 54.86 seconds) this year and the fourth-fastest time in the 100 free (53.60), she refuses to take anything for granted.

"I'd much rather go into [Southern Section] as the underdog; I'm not afraid," said Edoff, who will be competing against swimmers with national rankings and reputations. She has never competed in junior or senior national meets, but her 200 free time is .14 seconds faster than that of Laguna Hills' Shauna Barnard, a freshman who is nationally ranked in the event.

In last year's section finals, Edoff finished 13th in the 200 free and seventh in the 100 free.

Her chief competition in the 100 free this year will be Irvine's Danielle DeAlva, whose time of 53.27 is second in the county only to teammate and Olympic breaststroker Amanda Beard (52.81), who swam the event last week at the Sea View League finals.

"It'll be tough in the 100 free, especially if Amanda chooses to swim that event," Edoff said. "But I've swum against all of these girls one time or another, so I've seen them all before."

Orange Coach Michael Seltzer says Edoff is an "extremely determined competitor."

"When you compare this year to last, the big change in Alyson is that she is very focused on what she wants to do," Seltzer said. "And I don't think anyone can beat her when it comes to her will to win."

Edoff said her taper also will determine how she performs tonight.

Tapering involves a coach backing off on a swimmer's training regimen. When timed properly, the swimmer's excess energy, hopefully, is released during competition.

"My coaches at AAA [Anaheim Aquatics Assn.] had a really hard time with me [as far as my tapers]," said Edoff. "For some reason, I'm just a really hard person to taper."

According to Edoff, her AAA coach, Michael Christiansen, sought advice from other coaches, finally getting something that worked for his swimmer.

He now feels he knows her proper taper regimen.

"I get really hyper," Edoff said. "And I feel like I'm bouncing off the walls. I feel like running around and doing something, but I have to hold this feeling in until [the section finals]."

Said Seltzer: "She has made continual drops in her times from week to week, and I think she's going to surprise a lot of people at Belmont."

Edoff said she can't wait for tonight's races.

"The way I feel now," she said, "I don't care if there wasn't any water in the pool, I just want to swim."

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