The words “marquee swimming rivalry” don’t get typed very often—except in Long Beach, where the Moore League provides fascinating storylines and big-time headlines. Two dates to circle: on April 20 Wilson will host Poly in a dual meet and on May 3rd and 4th at Cabrillo the city’s best will compete at the league finals.
The Wilson boys’ swim team holds the longest league championship streak in the history of California, having won every Moore League crown since 1973. Last year they lost their first dual meet in that span but rallied to win league finals and the championship as part of an emotional evening.
“Last year was beyond difficult, and this year may be more so,” said Bruins coach Eric Berg. “We graduated some horses, and we’re trying to find the right combination of guys—Poly is a deep program right now, so nothing is taken for granted.”
Jake Zuanich, Spencer Arcese, and Max Berg are the top swimmers for the Bruins, and Berg says beyond that the team is going to rely on depth and competitive spirit.
“We have to have guys be willing to fill in and compete,” he said.
Poly coach Eddie Kim graduated some talented swimmers as well and has had to deal with injuries this year.
“We still have a goal for where we want to be at the end of this year,” he said. “We feel a little less pressure, but we’re still putting it together this year.”
The Jackrabbits’ top seniors include co-captains Elijah Magalong and Evan Scales, as well as contributors like Christopher Quach and Christopher Correa.
Around the league, other top swimmers include Millikan freshmen Rory Klevin and Nick Watkins and Lakewood’s Maxime Amiset.
Unlike the historic consistency of the boys’ side, the Moore League girls’ swimming title has been a tug-of-war between Long Beach Poly and Wilson. The Jackrabbits won the last two titles and the Bruins won the two before that. Every time the teams are in the same water there’s a charge in the crowd, and the coaches of both teams agree that it makes their squads better.
“We both really get up for it,” said Poly coach Kalani Caldwell. “It’s almost like an out-of-body experience for the kids, we both have a lot of personal bests in those meets.”
“It’s like USC and UCLA football, it brings out the best in both teams,” said Wilson coach Maggie Twinem.
Poly would be the favorite this year having graduated just one major point-scorer from last year’s league champion. Top swimmers include Anja Oca (a U Tampa scholarship signee), Josie Liebzeit, Emily Lester, Georgia Buffington, Victoria Quach, and Allison Knapp.
For Wilson, there are some known entities including Ruby Prosser, Lilly Simmons, and Delainey Whelan, all three of whom are underclassmen.
Caldwell said that her team has to get used to its new perch atop the league standings.
“It’s a different thing, we’ve always been the underdog clawing to the top,” she said. “We have to keep that hunger and that desire because Wilson’s going to fight just as hard.”
On that point the coaches agree again.
“I’m sure when we see each other on April 20th and at the league finals it will be a dogfight,” she said.
One other top swimmer in the league is Lakewood’s Maelynn Lawrence, who won the 200 yard freestyle and the 500 yard freestyle at last weekend’s Klaus Barth Invite. Lawrence is a junior with a bright future in the distance races.
Other top swimmers around the league include Millikan sophomore Isabella Maclean-Cariello and senior Sophia Sussman.