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By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian
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By Rod Thornburg / Special to The Californian
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
They go to schools that are across town from each other, belong to different swim clubs, compete in different events and championship divisions, and are a grade apart, but Highland's Taylor Solorio and Frontier's Jorie Caneta have one key thing in common.
The longtime friends were both record-breaking high school girls swimmers this past season.
Solorio, a senior, capped her brilliant high school career by setting meet records in the 200-yard individual medley (2:05.41) and 100 butterfly (56.63) at the Central Section Division II Swimming Championships.
One day earlier, in the prelims of the section's Division I championship meet, Caneta, a junior, broke the section record in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:02.37) for a second straight year.
Caneta was ever-so-slightly slower in the finals (1:02.89) but was still by far the class of the field as she won her third consecutive D-I section title in the event.
Solorio, the holder of just about every one of Highland's school records for girls swimming, brought home a third gold medal from the D-II championships, anchoring the Scots winning 400 freestyle relay team (3:46.29). She also helped Highland's 200 medley relay team take second place (1:57.45).
For all of their many amazing accomplishments in the pool this season, Solorio and Caneta are The Californian's All-Area High School Girls Co-Swimmers of the Year.
Centennial's Carlee Burks, who finished a close second (380.10 to 380.00) at the D-I section meet to Clovis West's Ann Funk, is The Californian's Girls Diver of the Year.
Big-time success is nothing new to Solorio. She was the Central Section Division II champion in both the 50 free and 100 free as a junior.
Her winning time of 52.42 seconds in the 100 free is a Division II record.
This past year Solorio, swimming at Highland for the first time under her long-time Bakersfield Aquatics Club coach Charlie Pike, was the fastest girls swimmer in Bakersfield in every event except for the 100 breaststroke.
"To me I think the best thing about what she did this year was how many different events she swam," Pike said. "I think except for the 100 backstroke, she has every single record at Highland. She can swim anything from the 50 free to the 500 free. And the cool thing about her is that she's willing to do anything."
Solorio's herculean performance at the D-II championships carried the Highland girls team to a fifth-place finish.
"I think it was the perfect way to cap (my high school career) off, winning both of my (individual) events," Solorio said. "But honestly my 4x100 relay made my senior year. We won Valley. I was just so proud of my whole team."
Pike believes Solorio's success comes from her natural talent coupled with an immense amount of dedication.
"All great swimmers have a natural feel for the water and she definitely has that," Pike said. "But she also has such a strong work ethic. In all my years of coaching I've never had a kid that dedicated. She shows up for practice even if she feels under the weather. There's never an excuse for anything."
By posting her record-breaking 100 breaststroke mark, Caneta was the only girl from Kern County this year to register an automatic All-American time in an event.
That first-place swim and her fourth-place finish in the 100 free helped give the Titans the points to finish in sixth place in the D-I team standings at the section championships.
"I think what made this season so special is that 1:02 (in the 100-yard breaststroke) has been one of my goals since my freshman year," Caneta said. "I hadn't dropped below 1:04 before this year, so it was great to achieve that."
Caneta, a member of the Roadrunner Aquatics swim club, credits hard work, especially on technique to get more power out of her stroke, with her progression in speed.
Frontier coach Jayme Huens says Caneta gives "110 percent" effort all the time.
"She has one thing that she tries to accomplish each year, and that is to beat her previous goals from the year before," Huens said. "And she's been able to do that with every year that she swims. She's always striving to have a personal best."
According to Huens, Caneta has a passion for the water.
"She would live in the water, I think, if we'd let her," Huens said.
While Caneta has one more year of high school competition left, Solorio is headed to San Jose State on a swimming scholarship.
"College is right around the corner, so I really want to perform well (this coming year)," Caneta said. "I want to get into a good college and swim there."
Solorio is ready for the next big step in her swimming career.
"It's an amazing opportunity," Solorio said. "I've toured the campus. I've met my future teammates and my coaches. I'm excited."