Johnson Ranch claims 2016 Comstock Championship
Competition breeds greatness.
Legendary Johnson Ranch swim coach John Hooten understands this concept very well as he doctors his practices up to pair great swimmers against each other in order to make both better, faster.
Hooten has been the Barracudas head coach since 2005 and he’s produced a six-straight league championships heading into this past weekend’s Comstock Conference meet, but he saved his best for last.
Thanks to record-setting days in the pool from a number of swimmers, Johnson Ranch won the league championship for a seventh-straight season, this time by a cool 500 points. The Barracudas racked up 1818 points, while Gold River finished second (1301) and Elk Grove took third (1298).
“It was a great year and it ended with a great meet, one that was really fun to watch,” Hooten stated. “The kids had the most personal bests ever in a year and the most personal bests in our championships.”
As has been the case all year, the Barracudas 11-12 girls 200-yard medley relay team and freestyle relay team — comprised of Amber Myers, Brooke Briggs, Natalie Quilala and Rosie Murphy — blew the competition out of the water.
The group began the weekend with a blazing fast 1:55.71 NorCal league record-setting time in the 200-yard medley relay before capping the weekend with another conference-best time in the 100-yard freestyle relay (1:44.37).
“In the beginning, that was one of the groups that we had high hopes for,” Hooten explained. “But it ended up being fast across the league. Gold River had some really fast swimmers and that made for a great situation because that competition motivated both parties to do better.”
To put that speed into perspective, Myers broke an 100-yard IM league record on her own that previously stood since 2004 with a time of 1:01.70. Meanwhile, Briggs, who is Johnson Ranch’s fastest breaststroke swimmer, broke the league record in the 50-yard race but finished second behind a Gold River swimmer.
“There was a group of six or eight girls in the league that were just amazingly fast,” Hooten added. “They just pushed each other back and forth.”
Myers also took home first place in the 50-yard freestyle event (24.89) and set a new NorCal league record in the 100-yard freestyle race (53.63) and the 50-yard backstroke with a time of 28.67.
The performance was impressive and it was just what Hooten wanted to see before he called it quits.
The veteran coach announced his retirement this week following the club’s end of the year party and their 2016 conference championship.
“I decided in April that this would be my last year, and I didn’t want that to be a distraction throughout the season so we waited until after the championships to let everyone know,” Hooten acknowledged. “It’s been fun watching our system work so well (this year) and that’s something we try to instill in the kids — We don’t focus on the outcome, we just focus on the process of swimming fast.”
Hooten’s process-based swim techniques have paid huge dividends for the Johnson Ranch program, as well as a number of Granite Bay swimmers. There’s no doubt from the community that he will be missed.
Hooten’s last hoorah will come in two weeks as Johnson Ranch sends a record-high number of swimmers to the Meet of Champions in Woodland, July 30.