Pictured are members of the San Benito Aquatics Team who participated in the March 15-17 Pacific Swimming’s Age Group Championship Swim Meet at Baler Aquatics Center. Contributed photo

Pacific Swimming’s Age Group Championship Swim Meet, formerly known as Spring Junior Olympics, made a triumphant return to Hollister High’s Baler Aquatics Center from March 15-17. Nearly 700 elite swimmers aged 14 and under gathered to compete for personal bests, new records, and the opportunity to qualify for the next level meet, Spring Far Westerns.

Representing Hollister were Leila Day, 13, an 8th grader at AAA Academy; Juliana Ortiz, 12, a 6th grader at Spring Grove School; Ally Lee,11, a 5th grader at Rancho Santana School; and Isabella Gonzales, 10, a 4th grader at Ocean Grove School.

Leila Day participated in five events: 50 Freestyle, 200 Breast, 100 Butterfly, 100 Freestyle and 100 Breast. Juliana Ortiz competed in three events: 200 Breast, 100 Breast and 50 Breast. Ally Lee showcased her talent in seven events: 50 Freestyle, 50 Butterfly, 100 Individual Medley, 200 Breast and 50 Breast. Juliana also secured spots in the finals for the 200 Butterfly and 400 Individual Medley. 

Isabella Gonzalez took on five events: 200 Freestyle, 50 Backstroke, 100 Freestyle, 50 Breast and 100 Individual Medley.

Despite being a smaller team, the San Benito Aquatics Swim Team continues to shine, competing admirably against teams with over 400 swimmers. 

SBA’s Head Coach, Michael Fujii, attributes their success to the swimmers’ dedication, passion for improvement and willingness to embrace challenges while enjoying the sport. SBA prides itself on fostering an inclusive environment for competitive swimming, offering swim lessons and programs for all ages and skill levels.

SBA President Jennifer Lee expressed gratitude to the volunteers who helped host the event, which brought approximately 3,000 visitors to the community. The influx of visitors led to sold-out lodging and bustling restaurants, benefiting local businesses. Lee emphasized the positive impact of SBA’s events on the community’s economy, highlighting the organization’s role in supporting local businesses.

The Baler Aquatics Center, with its state-of-the-art facilities and picturesque campus, proved to be an ideal venue for hosting large-scale swimming meets for Pacific Swimming.

Congratulations to our local athletes for their outstanding performance in this event! As the aquatic community continues to flourish, we eagerly anticipate more swimmers achieving similar success in the future.

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