LONG BEACH — Sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do. At least, that's how Irvine's Nicole Bowdle saw it Saturday afternoon before the start of the Southern Section Relays.
Bowdle, one of the county's best in the breaststroke, had explicit instructions from her club coach not to swim Saturday's relays because of her preparation for the upcoming Senior Nationals. But Bowdle wanted to swim with her high school team and help the Vaqueros defend their title.
Chalk it up to being a freshman: Bowdle decided to take her chances and swim the meet anyway.
"It was about 4 this afternoon that I made my decision to swim," Bowdle said. "I don't want my [club] coach to know. I know I'll be in big trouble, but I wanted to swim this so bad and help my team. This is my first year swimming high school, and I love it."
Irvine won with 260 points. Mission Viejo was second (202) and South Pasadena was third with 164.
Bowdle's high school and club teammate, Olympian Amanda Beard, also got the same orders and elected not to swim in the meet. However, she did watch from the pool deck, cheering on the Vaqueros.
Bowdle's participation was the big difference in the 4x50 breaststroke relay, in which she swam the anchor.
"She didn't swim in prelims on Thursday, but her teammate Shannon Fabbri, who did the prelim swim, stepped down to let Nicole swim, which I think speaks a lot of Shannon," Irvine Coach Scott Hinman said.
Irvine went into the breaststroke relay seeded second behind South Pasadena. But because of Bowdle's anchor swim of 29 seconds, the Vaqueros won the event in 2 minutes 9.48 seconds. Also swimming on that relay was Emi Umezawa, Kristina Peterson and Hammie Kim.
Bowdle also contributed on the 4x100 freestyle relay, leading off the race and helping her team to a second-place finish of 3:42.13. Irvine had four relay victories.
The Vaqueros won the first event, the 4x100 individual medley relay in 4:08.72, the 4x50 butterfly relay (1:51.90) and the 4x50 medley relay (1:53.92).
Mission Viejo had an impressive showing, winning two relays. In the 6x50 freestyle relay, Roxanne Raissian, Jennifer Swanson, Jessie Klenner, Wallis Bergeron, Christina Murphy and Lindsey Hartman turned in a winning time of 2:35.66.