Before the final event in Thursday’s dual meet with La Quinta, the two Palm Springs 400 freestyle relay teams knew perfectly well what they had to do
Indians swim coach Jeff Conwell had double and triple checked the meet’s score, then briskly walked over to his teams and gave them the news. Palm Springs trailed by two points, 79-77, and had to take first and third, or their pursuit for a rebound win after a rough meet the week before against Xavier Prep would fall short.
The relay team of Chris Passerino, Nick Gayer, Joe Little and Christian Meyer won with a time of 3:35.34, and Josh Freeman took the pool as the final leg of the second relay team trailing La Quinta’s second relay team by more than a body length. Freeman stormed ahead in the final strokes by 0.8 seconds to secure the 87-83 victory.
“Going into the meet, we knew the strength of our lineup was in the end of the meet,” Conwell said. “But you don’t know after having a rough meet last week, so to say we were confident coming into it? No, we were worried. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
After the Indians’ 200 IM relay team of Meyer, Freeman, Gayer and Passerino won the first event of the afternoon, Palm Springs either trailed or was tied up until the final event, despite taking first place in six of the next nine events — with Gayer and Meyer each winning two.
La Quinta boys swim coach Cal Lowell had a hunch coming into the dual meet everything could come down to the final race, and he was right; just not about who he thought would pull things out.
“I thought we’d win it. All my boys but one did their best times in that relay. They performed well, and the other one was close to his best,” Lowell said. “But it wouldn’t have made a difference. The Palm Springs guys, they surprised me.”
The girls’ varsity dual meet between the two teams didn’t bring the same excitement, but for La Quinta coach Jennifer Hill, it was a sign her swimmers are moving in the right direction, as they defeated Palm Springs 106-64.
With the Indians graduating several top club swimmers after last year, Hill, whose roster is made up mostly of devoted water polo players, said she thinks her girls can compete with any team who’s on more of a level playing field with the Blackhawks.
“You can’t compare apples to oranges,” Hill said. “When we compete against girls who are just swimming high school, I think we fare very well.”
Each coach said they were looking forward to digging into the rest of the DVL season, even Lowell despite his team’s first loss of the season. Time will still tell who comes out on top when the DVL finals arrive in May, but Conwell said he likes his team’s chances.
“In any sport, it’s about momentum, and we have momentum,” Conwell said. “If we can keep building on that momentum coming into DVL and CIF, we could be the best team in the DVL by the championships.”