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Bruins bring it in the pool

Surging Bear River squad led by experienced veterans, phenomenal youth at section meet
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES ? Garat Johnson?s perfect Saturday starts in a Speedo and ends in a tuxedo. Haley Jungers has made an annual tradition of taking on the top swimmers in the region by day and going formal at night each May. On Saturday the Bear River High seniors are aiming for glory at the Sac-Joaquin Section Swimming Championships before heading back to school for senior prom ? their final dance as high schoolers. ?It?s exciting, but it?s also kind of sad because it?s my last time,? Jungers said. ?I love all the girls that I?m going to sections with so I?m sad that I won?t be coming back to this pool.? The Bruins? senior leaders have seen the Bear River program grow into a power. Both the boys and girls teams won Pioneer Valley League championships last week for a second straight season and a couple of phenomenal underclassmen have a chance to bring home individual titles at the section meet. ?The club team that (coaches Daryn Glasgow and Ethan Green) started was instrumental,? said Johnson, who will play water polo at Santa Clara next year. ?That made it so there were more opportunities available and the freshmen came in and they are really strong. We went from goofing off in swimming to working hard and wanting to do really well.? Johnson is aiming to improve on his sixth place finish at the section finals in 2010, when he set his personal best in the 100-meter butterfly (51.3 seconds). He?ll also compete on two relay teams with the chance to make the prestigious top eight. Jungers is hoping to hold her own in the ultra-competitive 50 freestyle. ?It?s scary ? I know how fast some of the girls are there,? admitted Jungers, who plans to walk on to the swimming team at the University of Hawaii next year. Bear River?s Hayley Winters is usually the one striking fear into her competitors. The lanky sophomore is faster in the 500 freestyle than most of the boys on her team. Her season-best time of 4 minutes, 55 seconds is second-best in the section this year. ?I like to go out hard in the race and descend every 100 meters,? Winters said of her strategy for swimming?s most grueling race. ?I just try to focus on being efficient and keep in mind what my goals are.? Josh Cutter makes no bones about his ambitions for the section meet as he competes in the 200 freestyle. ?I?m hoping to break the section record,? Cutter said. Cutter will have to slice about five seconds off his season best of 1:43.07 to set the section record, but it?s not out of question for the skilled junior. He blew away the field in the 500 free at the PVL Championships, but a paperwork snafu kept his entry from being accepted for the section finals. Cutter has seen the Bear River program blossom since Green and Glasgow began coaching three years ago. He started with the coaches in the off-season Bear River Swimming program and is now headed toward a college scholarship in the sport. ?They?re just really good coaches,? Cutter said. ?They really inspire us.? Johnson is proud of the strides the Bruins have made in the pool throughout his four years on the team. He?s hoping to cap his career with one last epic Saturday. ?The ultimate day would be swimming in the 400 free relay finals, which is the last event at sections,? Johnson said, ?and then coming back for prom that night.?