All-star swim team take first at NM Games

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The Valencia County Super Swimmers, a combined team of swimmers from the Belen Hurricanes, Los Lunas Stingrays and Tidal Wave Swim Team, overwhelmingly finished in first place at the recent New Mexico Games swimming competition.

The Super Swimmers took the title for the second year in a row and had an incredible 41 swimmers take home medals — 21 medals each that were gold and silver as well as 16 bronze medals.

"We won last year and didn't figure on winning until we got there," said coach Kaitlin Jaramillo, who took home a gold and a silver medal in the women 19-24 age division. "This year we went in thinking we could win and we did that."

Five swimmers finished with three gold medals in the competition — Damien Wilson, 9, Shaylee Silva, 10, MacKenzie Wilson 11, Adelene Armenta, 18, and Kiley McCleary, 14. McCleary finished with a silver medal as well to finish with four medals as the top medal winner for the VCSS.

Other triple medal winners included Tommy Browning, 15, Robbie Zannoti, 10 and Jonathan Gamez, 17, Christofori Sanchez, 8, and Sophia Hampton, 18, who all won two golds and a silver; Caleb Garnand, 15, and Marisol Olivas, 12, who each won two gold medals and a bronze; and Chiara Pesina, 13, who took home a gold and a pair of silver medals. Katie Baldonado, 8, and Makaela Perea, 8, also took home a pair of gold medals.

The V.C. Super Swimmers also took home 12 relay medals — three gold, three silver and four bronze. Among the gold medal winners were the team of Makaela Perea, Robbie Zanotti, Alec Epley and Megan Weghorn, who placed first in the Mixed 14 and under 4×200-yard medley relay; the team of Marissa Candelaria, Shaylee Silva, Caleb Garnand, Marisol Olivas, William Kessler, Tommy Browning, Damien Wilson and MacKezie Wilson, who took home gold in the Mixed 99 and under 8×50 yard medley relay; and the team of Tommy Browning, Cloe Baldonado, Jonathan Gamez and Marissa Candelaria in the Mixed 13 and over 4×200 freestyle medley.

"(Wins like these) just give our kids a big boost in confidence, and it's great for us to see too," Jaramillo said. "With swimming it's like an underground sport. So, to have coaches and swimmers look at us and say 'Something is happening down south' is really awesome."

The Belen Hurricanes and Los Lunas Stingrays will participate in the Sundance Swim League's district meets at the Isleta Recreation Center and the Tanoan Country Club, respectively, on Thursday, July 17. The Sundance Championship is set for Saturday, July 19, at the West Mesa Aquatic Center in Albuquerque.