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Trio Seeks Winning Touch Again

Swimming: Cleveland's Hefter and the Shapiro sisters of Granada Hills look to defend championships at today's City Section finals in Long Beach.


Not much has changed for swimmers Mitchell Hefter and Stephanie and Natalie Shapiro.

Hefter, a Cleveland High senior, and the Shapiro sisters, standouts for Granada Hills, were big winners last year at the City Section swimming championships.

And the trio is expected to enjoy similar success at this year's finals, which begin at 3 p.m. today at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach.

Hefter, who has signed with California, won the 50-yard freestyle last year by more than a second and the 100 freestyle by 3 1/2 seconds. He nearly duplicated those feats last week in the preliminaries.

Even with a poor turn in the 50, Hefter swam a preliminary time of 22.08, more than a second faster than any other competitor.

Hefter expects to be faster in the final. He timed 21.6 in the West Valley League finals--good enough to qualify for junior nationals this summer--but the mark was unofficial because the touch pad was broken.

"I got off to a good start," he said. "I just need to make my turn better to make my junior national cut."

Hefter's 100 freestyle preliminary time of 48.65 was the fastest by more than two seconds.

The Shapiro sisters have been catalysts for Granada Hills in winning the last two City Section team titles, winning two individual events each year.

Natalie Shapiro, a senior who will swim at Fresno State, had the fastest preliminary time in the 100 freestyle (56.79) and the second-fastest in the 200 freestyle (2:01.33) without tapering.

Stephanie Shapiro, a junior, was first in the 200 individual medley (2:15.44) and is top-seeded in the 500 freestyle.

The sisters, who team with Sarah Clark and Katherine Nielson in two relays, should help Granada Hills dominate again.

Venice appears to have the depth to repeat as boys' champion, with Cleveland, El Camino Real, Palisades, Birmingham and Taft all capable of finishing as high as second.

El Camino Real is led by Brian Brown, who has the fastest preliminary times in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke, and Josh Williams, the defending champion in the 100 breaststroke.

Taft's Blake Nord will be seeded first in the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

Sabra Martini of El Camino Real is the defending girls' champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle. Martini had the fastest preliminary time in the 50 but was second to Natalie Shapiro in the 100.

"She didn't swim her best," El Camino Real Coach Dave Johnson said. "I know she can do better."

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