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The Verde Valley High Performance swimmers returned from a winter holiday hiatus with a strong showing at the 14th annual Phil Levine Invitational, held at Moon Valley Country Club across four days and two weekends, ending on Jan. 28.

Twelve-year-old Carlos Lattanzi, who at the end of 2017 held six No. 1 times in Arizona in his age group, added two more to that list, on top of taking first in all 10 events he swam at the
meet. Meanwhile, 12-yearold Renae Porteous and 11-year-old Sarina McCullough turned in top three swims, and some new members of the team made their debut.


Lattanzi broke the two minute barrier in the 200-yard freestyle, finishing in 1:59.33 while also rising to No. 1 in the event in his age group, 11 to-12-year-old boys. He became Arizona’s
top time holder in the 200-yard backstroke as well, finishing in 2:14.00. In the mile, he dropped a hair over 40 seconds, touching in at 18:17.22 to become the 44th fastest in the nation. The big drop came from a focus on pacing the race.

“I thought he made really good progress in coming to the realization of how he has to pace his races,” VVHP head coach Sean Emery said. “Just how he swam it, instead of going fast and
not being able to make the whole thing at the same pace and being able to keep it a little more even.”

He also dropped 2.65 seconds in the 400-yard individual medley [4:37.87], but is still just under eight seconds off the Arizona record, set in 2013. Outtouching an 18-year-old in the 200-yard butterfly also secured a No. 1 ranking in Arizona and 39th in the country.

Porteous had two first place swims, in the mile [20:06.83] and went sub one minute in the 100-yard freestyle [59.39]. She also brought home five second-place finishes in the following events: 50-yard butterfly, 50-yard breaststroke, 100-yard individual medley, 200 freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke.

McCullough finished first in the 50-yard butterfly, second in the mile and third in the 500-yard freestyle, dropping time in all three events.

After the high school season in the fall, a few Sedona Red Rock High School swimmers joined the team. A couple made their debuts, including freshman Jaxon Oles. Oles took second in the 50 breaststroke [36.84]. Sophomore Ellie Seip took fourth in the 50 breaststroke [37.76].

Emery said that some of the high schoolers were experiencing shoulder problems. He said he was impressed with the fact that they were able to recover and return to the same level they were at, or faster.

The Junior Olympics and state meets are fast approaching, which the team has its sights set on.

“As long as we’re taking care of doing the right things at practice, [the results] will take care of [themselves],” Emery said. “Every yearwe’ve placed higher at state.”

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