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Ceres High, Central Valley swimmers aim to improve times, have fun in pool
Freshman Julia Pata will star on Ceres High Schools varsity girls swim team this spring. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Julia Pata starred on Ceres High School's varsity girls water polo team this past fall.

She earned first-team, all-Western Athletic Conference honors.

Pata led the third-place Bulldogs (4-4) in assists and steals. She also scored 11 goals.

Julia will be a dominant force in swimming this spring.

"It's crazy to think older swimmers look up to me," said Pata, a humble freshman. "I also look up to them."

Pata's main individual events will be the 50 free and 500 free.

She'll also be a member of the Bulldogs' 200 IM and 400 free relay teams.

"I want to improve and have fun," Julia said.

Pata should have a memorable first season with Ceres High.

Julia will be favored to win several individual titles at the WAC finals.

She will also try to post qualifying times for the Sac-Joaquin Section meet.

"I want to get faster as the year goes on so I can be more competitive at sections," Julia said.

Ceres High's top-returning swimmers are Baylee Carlin (So.), Annie Connors (So.), Emily Chapman (Sr.) and Haley Hoback (Sr.).

Carlin, Connors, Chapman and Hoback helped lead the Bulldogs to a third-place finish at the WAC finals a year ago.

Baylee placed fourth in the 50 free (29.83).

Annie placed sixth in the 50 free (31.81).

Emily placed sixth in the 100 fly (1:31.45) and eighth in the 100 back (1:35.58).

Haley placed eighth in the 500 free (7:37.05).

"Swimming's an individual sport," Julia said. "But it's a team sport, too. I like the family aspect."

Pata started swimming five years ago when she joined the Ceres Dolphins recreational team.

She placed first in the 50 free and 100 free, and second in the 100 IM while capturing the 13-14-year-old High-Point trophy at the MVSL Championships during the summertime.

"A lot of my success comes from hard work," Julia said.

A dual-standout in the pool, junior Zachary Jones will be striving for additional success as a member of Ceres High's varsity boys swim team this spring.

Jones set personal records last year while capturing a bronze medal in the 50 free (22.67) and finishing eighth in the 100 free (50.09) at the Sac-Joaquin Section Frosh-Soph Boys Championships. He took first in the 100 free (50.97) and placed fourth in the 100 breast (1:11.78) during the WAC varsity finals.

Zachary collected 54 goals, 37 assists and 31 steals for the Bulldogs' second-place water polo squad last fall. He earned first-team, all-league honors.

"I've been swimming for 10 years now," said Jones, who stands 6-foot-3 and wears a size 13 shoe. "I really enjoy the sport. I love the competition. It's a lot of fun because I'm with my friends. It's cool people look up to me. I just like to set a good example."

Zachary will try to finish first in the 100 free at the WAC meet for the third straight year.

"I want to go undefeated in league in the 100 free and 50 free," he said. "I want to improve my times as much as I can every year."

The Bulldogs' top returnees are Erik Weststeyn (Jr.), Stefan Perry (Sr.) and Nathan Stone (Jr.).

Weststeyn took fourth in the 500 free (6:14.09) and eighth in the 100 fly (1:06.55) at the WAC finals in 2013.

Perry placed fifth in the 500 free (6:20.36) and seventh in the 100 breast (1:18.29).

Ceres High's boys finished second as a team in the WAC for the second year in a row.

Central Valley High School's varsity swim program has a 44-person roster, up from 38 in 2013.

The Hawks had just 13 members three years ago.

Central Valley returnees expected to contribute this season include Simaran Dosanjh (Jr.), Stephany Navarro (Sr.), Jessica Muci (Sr.), Jose Robles (Sr.), Kevin Martinez (Sr.), David Jimenez (Jr.), Austin Bell (Sr.) and Braden Rambo (Sr.).

Dosanjh, Navarro and Muci and will lead Central Valley's girls team, which finished sixth at the WAC Championships last season.

Simaran placed 15th in the 50 free (35.93) at the league finals.

Stephany placed 16th in the 100 breast (1:56.11).

Robles, Martinez, Jimenez, Bell and Rambo will lead Central Valley's boys squad.

Jose took 17th in the 100 breast (1:41.01) and 21st in the 50 free (29.75) at the WAC finals.

Kevin took 19th in the 50 free (29.10).

David took 20th in the 100 breast (1:48.65) and 39th in the 50 free (40.06).

Austin took 27th in the 50 free (32.66).

The Hawks finished last as a team at the conference meet.
Central Valley didn't earn any points.