Ceres High School has two of the best swimmers in the Stanislaus District.
Senior Zachary Jones and sophomore Julia Pata will look to add to their already-impressive resumes this year.
"They're amazing swimmers," Bulldogs coach Rebecca Sanders said. "They really make the team a priority."
Jones turned in a career-best performance while competing at the 2014 Sac-Joaquin Section Varsity Boys Swim Championships. Seeded 48th, Zachary placed 27th with a personal-best time of 22.68 seconds in the 50 free. He finished ahead of 44 other participants. He also took 27th in the 100 free (50.18). Jones took third in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free at the 2013 frosh-soph section meet.
"I just love how Zach is hungry in the heat of competition," Ceres High coach Sue Garcia said. "That's where he shines the most. He's a wonderful young man and is very humble with what he does in the pool and life."
Pata swept the 50 free and 100 free at the Western Athletic Conference Varsity Girls Swim Finals. Just a freshman, Pata didn't lose an individual race while competing against upperclassmen during the conference season. Pata placed seventh in the 100 free and 17th in the 50 free at the Sac-Joaquin Section Frosh-Soph Championships.
"She's a really hard worker," Sanders said. "She has a big heart. She's not arrogant at all. She's always positive. She's an inspiration for the other kids."
Bulldog teammates Erik Weststeyn (Sr.), Bobby Baranski (Jr.), Tristan Freitas (So.), Ciana Sather (So.), Kiera Brownlee (So.), Lindsey Reedy (So.) and Annie Connors (Jr.) will also be counted upon heavily this year.
Ceres High's girls and boys finished second (5-1) and third (4-2), respectively, in the WAC standings last season.
"It's hard to judge the competition with people graduating," Sanders said. "But it's possible for our boys to finish at the top. It's a realistic goal for our girls to finish in the top three."
Hawks seek improvement
Central Valley High School's varsity boys and girls swim teams both finished in sixth place during the 2014 WAC dual-meet season.
The Hawks will target improvement in several areas this year under head coach Sarah Willems' guidance.
"Obviously, I want my kids to win their races," she said. "I want them to better their times. I also want to be able to compete against other schools and get team wins."
Central Valley's roster features a mix of veterans and newcomers.
"I have a ton of new kids," Willems said.
Cesar Armas (So.), Edgar Cervantes (Sr.), David Jimenez (Sr.), Josue Lopez (Sr.), Sergio Lopez (Jr.), Simaran Dosanjh (Sr.), Vanesa Hernandez (Sr.), Daisy Robles (Jr.), Brenda Romo (So.), Jenely Rubalcava (Sr.), Leticia Sandoval (So.) and Roxana Torres (Jr.) are returners.
Leilani Ortiz (Fr.) is the Hawks' top newcomer.
"She comes from a swimming family," Willems said. "Her mom coached me when I was swimming for the Ceres Dolphins."