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Barracudas Swim To New Heights To Close Summer Campaign
When the season opened each member on the Riverbank Barracudas set out to become better swimmers and learn how to become better teammates and both hurdles evidently have been cleared with the squads' impressive performance during the season-ending championship meet in Patterson on July 31.

The team put together their best effort in hopes of bringing top honors back to Riverbank, giving head coach Tristan Long something that she will forever be proud of.

"We did so good during the championships," Long said. "I went into the meet hoping we would win because we had so many good swimmers and my squad did not let me down one bit."

The final results had not been tallied by the host team as of press time, but the final point sheet is not the device the Barracudas' coaching staff will use in measuring the success of the 2009 Riverbank team.

"The difference with this year's group is they had way more heart," Long said. "I don't know if it was our coaching staffs bubbly personalities or what, but this year we really got down to the kids' level.

"This year I was really hard on them."

Riverbank has put together a solid season with strong performances week-in and week-out, but Friday the group was clearly focused on the ultimate goal. This group wanted to close the season as champions.

"I made an announcement before we got the championships started," Long said. "And the entire team seemed very excited. Every swimmer was behind their blocks ready to go before we could even call for them.

"This group was really pumped for the opportunity."

Long knows that she ran a tight ship throughout the year, but the end result of the team as well as the improvement for the Barracudas on an individual level pushed this year's team onto her list of all-time favorites.

"I am a tough coach and I'm not going to lie," Long confessed. "If they don't follow the rules they're doing push-ups or jump-outs. I think a lot of that made them more dedicated, which really gave them more heart. These kids were completely, entirely motivated all year.

"It was a new door that I walked through this season."

Obviously the Barracudas hope their efforts were enough to edge out their main rival from Patterson, the Pirates, but even a co-championship or runner-up finish cannot define a group of swimmers that all elevated to new heights over the lengthy season.

"When I look back to the first day until our championship meet July 31," Long explained, "on our time sheets, every single (swimmer) improved their times. No matter if they were six-years-old or 16, whether it was one second or one minute, we all improved. And I am so proud of that it brings a tear to my eye."

Look for results for the Championship Meet in the Aug. 12 edition of The Riverbank News.