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Namba can do it all for CdM

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Prolific swimmer excels in backstroke, led Sea Kings to two big wins last week.

April 28, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Jared Namba is the backstroke king for the Corona del Mar High boys' swim team.

The junior first broke the school record in the 100-yard backstroke his freshman year. Since then, he's whittled it down to the current 51.72 seconds, which Namba swam at the tri-meet with Capistrano Valley and Loyola on April 19.

The backstroke time is the fastest in Orange County this season. But to understand Namba's year in swimming, one needs to backtrack to the CIF Southern Section Division I finals last year.

Namba had an off day at the preliminaries. He failed to make the championship finals in either of his individual events, the 200 individual medley or the backstroke. He rebounded at finals to grab the consolation title in both — as well as contributing to the first-place medley relay team — but it was still disappointing for the then-sophomore. He had placed sixth in CIF in both events as a freshman in 2009.

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"I think I was getting too worked up on making finals," Namba said. "Really, if I just stayed relaxed, I would have done what I needed to. This year, I'm more excited to just have fun with racing and see how everything goes. I'm not going to be as stressed."

Namba, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, is chill this year. Music is a big part of his life, so he's the guy who shows up to a photo shoot in a Coachella T-shirt.

He attended the three-day music festival for the first time earlier this month. His favorite band there was Arcade Fire, which makes sense considering how much Namba has heated up the pool this year.

Coach Barry O'Dea calls Namba "Mr. Consistent." He's also versatile, and he proved it last week in two big nonleague meets.

Namba won the 100 butterfly and 100 back and was on the winning medley relay team in the tri-meet. CdM beat Capo Valley, 90-80, earning bragging rights over the defending Division I champion and top-ranked team in the county. Two days later, O'Dea switched up his lineup but Namba was at it again, winning the 200 IM and 100 free and contributing to two relay wins.

He's that talented a swimmer. O'Dea could draw events out of a hat to determine what Namba will swim this year at CIF finals, though Namba said it could be the fly and back.

"We don't plan on putting him in the 500 [free]," O'Dea said. "But if I did, I think he could do that as well. He makes it fun to coach. I can put him in any event and I know I'm going to get a top-place finish."

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