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High Schools | GIRLS' SWIMMER OF THE YEAR

Cashion Enjoys the Time of Her Life

Irvine sophomore not only breaks 50 seconds but earns second-fastest 100 freestyle in history

June 18, 2002|DAN ARRITT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Courtney Cashion touched the wall at the end of the 100-yard freestyle last month at the Southern Section Division I swimming finals, then looked up at the digital clock inside Belmont Plaza in Long Beach. The Irvine High sophomore was hoping to break 50 seconds for the first time, but was shocked to see 49.45 flash across the board.

She quickly lifted her goggles, wiped the beads of water from her face, then shot another look at the numbers.

"I didn't think [the clock] was right," Cashion said. "I didn't know how I did that."

Cashion's time was the second-fastest all-time mark for a high school meet. Christina Swindle of Gulliver Prep High in Florida went 49.39 earlier this season, breaking the national high school record of 49.61.

Cashion, The Times' girls' swimmer of the year, wasn't the only one in awe of her performance at the division finals on May 10.

Many who watched her sweep the 50 and 100 freestyles, as well as anchor Irvine's 200 medley relay team to a national high school record, were impressed with Cashion's speed and determination.

"She really came down this year," Irvine Coach Scott Hinman said of Cashion's times. "It was a lot of hard work, a lot of mental maturity and being confident."

Cashion's best time in the 100 freestyle a year ago was 50.22, good enough to win the Division I title. Her winning time last month in the 50 freestyle, 23.22, was .35 faster than her best time last year, in the finals, where she finished second in Division I.

Cashion credited her teammates at Irvine High and in the Irvine Novaquatics swim club for giving her the will to train hard after knee surgery 18 months ago.

She said she's equally proud of the teamwork involved in setting the national high school record in the medley relay, which the Vaqueros did by more than a second. Cashion swam her freestyle anchor leg in 22.7.

"I just knew I needed to go really, really fast," she said. "I was trying as hard as I could."

Still, Cashion was happy to break 50 seconds, keeping pace with Swindle, 17, and Amanda Weir, 16, of Brookwood, Ga. Swindle won the 100 freestyle and Weir was second--both under 50 seconds--at the U.S. Short Course Championships in March.

"I knew I had to go 49 this season," Cashion said. "[Swindle and Weir] are my age and it would be right for me to do that. Next year, I think I can go 48."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

THE TIMES' RANKINGS

A final look at the top 10 girls' swimming teams in the Southland:

GIRLS

1. Irvine -- (SS-Div. I) No team came close to matching the Vaqueros, who won their sixth consecutive Division I title. (Previous ranking: 1)

2. Santa Margarita - (SS-Div. I) Eagles placed in top six in six of 11 events at the Division I finals, finishing second. (3)

3. Anaheim Canyon - (SS-Div. I) Erin Volcan won the 200 freestyle and anchored the winning 200 freestyle relay, helping Comanches finish third in Division I finals. (5)

4. Newport Harbor - (SS-Div. I) Sailors finished fourth in Division I after placing among the top six in seven of 11 events. (6)

5. San Clemente - (SS-Div. I) Kristen Caverly didn't set a national record this year but still helped Tritons finish fifth in Division I finals. (2)

6. Esperanza - (SS-Div. I) Erin Sieper helped them to sixth at Division I finals. (NR)

7. Foothill - (SS-Div. I) Knights finished first in the competitive Century League and seventh in Division I finals. (4)

8. Riverside Poly - (SS-Div. II) Jeri Moss broke a year-old Division II record in the 100 backstroke and anchored winning 400 freestyle relay team, helping Poly to the Division II title. (NR)

9. Laguna Hills - (SS-Div. I) Hawks had only one swimmer finish among the top six in any event at Division I finals, but were deep enough to finish eighth. (NR)

10. Capistrano Valley - (SS-Div. I) Cougars had two swimmers among the top six in the 500 freestyle at the Division I finals, helping team to finish ninth. (8)

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