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Larson consistently stepped up for CdM

Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week

Senior, headed for the University of Minnesota, provided fast swims for Sea Kings at CIF finals.

May 19, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

The goal in high school swimming is to swim your best by the time CIF finals roll around.

Few have done it better than Corona del Mar High senior Garrett Larson.

Larson really hits his stride when he's tapered. On a crowded, noisy pool deck at Belmont Plaza in Long Beach, he knows how to deliver for the Sea Kings.

He did it again at the CIF Southern Section Division I finals May 13. Larson swam the breaststroke leg as he, Jared Namba, Christian Garkani and Ari Marks won the 200-yard medley relay in 1 minute, 34.28 seconds.

"We won it last year too, so it was good to keep the title," he said. "We switched up the order. Christian Garkani was going to do backstroke and Jared was going to do fly, and we switched them. I think that really helped. [John Kim] usually does the fly, so we had to find a new flier. Since Jared's such a good backstroker, we decided to put Christian in the fly and he went really fast. He pulled through."

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Kim missed the meet due to a sprained ankle but CdM still placed third as a team for the second straight year. It wouldn't have been possible without Larson, the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week who was also third in the 200 individual medley (1:51.65) for the second straight year, as well as 12th in the breaststroke.

Larson, who has signed with the University of Minnesota, would be the last one to toot his own horn. CdM Coach Barry O'Dea called Larson "pretty mild mannered," but his talent shines when he's on the pool deck.

Take the 200 IM, for example, where Larson went a 1:56.50 at Pacific Coast League finals, good for second place, before shaving off nearly five seconds at CIF finals. Larson said this didn't surprise him, because a similar thing happened his junior year.

It could be called just a good taper. It could also be called stepping up at a big moment.

"I had him going top three," O'Dea said of his four-year varsity swimmer. "We were really happy with his performance there. He wasn't hitting his best times up to that point, and then all of a sudden he just exploded. Every year, it just seems like at CIF time he hits another level."

Larson began swimming at age 4 with Coach Ted Bandaruk and the neighborhood Harbor View Swim Team. Three years later he began at the Irvine-based AquaZot Swim Club, where he's coached by Brian Pajer and has met many of his best friends like Namba, Chris Wong of University High and Michael Hauss of Edison High.

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