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BY MATT MARTZ Special to The Californian
The 2012 high school swimming season was a bit of a bittersweet one for Highland's Taylor Solorio.
Tapered and peaking, Solorio dominated the pool, posting two Division II Central Section championships, swimming the 50 freestyle in 24.39 while setting a new D-II record in the 100 freestyle with a time of 52.42.
But because Highland is a Division II squad, the third-year varsity standout didn't have a chance to compete against the section's Division I talent.
However, either of those times were the best in the county, and for that Solorio is The Californian's All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year.
"Any swimmer wants an opportunity to swim against the best to see what they are capable of, including myself," Solorio said. "But I try and focus on making the best of what my division has to offer."
She also said that in swimming, times matter the most, not who she's competing against.
What’s more, Solorio has nothing to prove, having already competed in a Division I section championship as a freshman and winning the 100 freestyle.
The Californian is also honoring Liberty senior Lucy LaFranchise as its Girls Diver of the Year for the third time.
LaFranchise won the Central Section Division I title with a whopping automatic All-America mark of 429.05, more than 30 points better than runner-up Noelle Farrer of Garces. LaFranchise will dive on scholarship at UC Davis this fall.
As for Solorio, though she considers herself more of a sprinter, competing primarily in the 50 and 100 free, the junior says her favorite event is the 200 freestyle.
It’s an event that she made marked improvement in 2012, dropping two seconds and clocking a 1:52.63 at the Southeast Yosemite League Championships. That time would have won the Division I race by 3.5 seconds, and Highland coach Brad Rappleye called it “amazing.”
“That was my most memorable moment of the season,” Solorio said. “I really didn't expect to take off time, considering it was a week before Valley, so it was a nice surprise.”
A consummate contender since the age of 10 when she began swimming competitively, Solorio also made great strides this past season in the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, dropping a second and three seconds, respectively.
The IM is a grueling event, with swimmers getting across the pool using, in order; the butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle.
“During the season, those two events improved immensely,” Solorio said. “Coach Rappleye entered me in all of them many times throughout the season, and now I’m thankful he did.”
Being named Swimmer of the Year “felt like an honor,” Solorio said, adding, “My success couldn’t have been possible without my coaches and the support from my teammates.”
That’s a success that Solorio said she calculates in times, rather than in titles, records — or even winning.
“Taylor is such a hard worker and well-rounded swimmer,” said Rappleye, who has coached Solorio for three years. “And she is great in every event, at any distance.”
Although the high school swimming season just recently concluded, Solorio already has her sights and goals set for 2013 and beyond.
“Next season I hope to drop time in my best events such as the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle,” she said. “I also look forward to swimming at four-year college.”