image- Swim CCS
From right, Grace Anderson, Riley Rhodes, Mia Griffiths and Eve Kearns make up a quartet of outstanding swimmers at Half Moon Bay High School. All four girls competed at CCS last week as Anderson became the first Half Moon Bay High School swimmer to qualify for the California State Championships. Kyle Ludowitz/Review

Grace Anderson is the first Half Moon Bay High School swimmer to qualify for the California State Championships. The junior took third in the 50-yard freestyle and fourth in the 100-yard freestyle Saturday at the Central Coast Section championship meet in Santa Clara.

She achieved personal bests in both events, with 23.40 in the 50 free and 50.36 in the 100 free.

“It was just a really solid day,” said Anderson. “I was happy to sneak up on third and fourth place in individuals. Those were my best times ever in club or high school.”

Anderson is part of a quartet of outstanding swimmers at the high school that includes Mia Griffiths, Eve Kearns and Riley Rhodes. Dubbed by some as the “fantastic four,” these junior girls have been swimming together since middle school and now swim year- round on club teams as well as during the spring high school season. 

All four girls competed at CCS last weekend, both together and in individual events. The team was ranked 15th overall at the competition.

“I believe this was Half Moon Bay’s best performance both overall and in individual events,” said Lauren Baeder, HMB High School swim coach. “Meets like CCS are very competitive. The majority of these athletes are nationally ranked. Finishing 15th overall is great for our team.”

Rhodes came in 14th in the 100-yard backstroke finals from a seeded 31st, shaving 42 seconds off her preliminary time to finish at 59.06.

On Friday, Kearns competed in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard butterfly, receiving her best overall time in the IM, and Griffiths swam in the 200-yard freestyle, but both were eliminated in the preliminary rounds. 

The girls also competed in the 400-yard freestyle relay, but fell short in the preliminaries by just one place, coming in 17th. They made the finals in the 200-yard IM relay and raised their position from 13th to 12th, shaving 1.04 seconds off their prelim time to finish at 1:50.77. 

The time failed to qualify for the state meet, so this may have been the last time all four girls compete together. 

Anderson’s family moved to Texas in April, and she has been living with teammate Rhodes to finish up her junior year. She is deciding whether to stay with Rhodes to finish high school in Half Moon Bay or to join her family in Texas.

“It’s a very hard decision,” said Anderson. “Leaving here would be hard. It would be my senior year and it’s where all my friends are.”

Coastsider Brooks Taner will also be heading to the state championship next weekend. The Half Moon Bay senior at Junipero Serra High School competed in two individual events on Saturday, placing seventh in the 200-yard freestyle at 1:41.17 and fourth in the 100-yard butterfly at 49.40. He was also part of Serra’s 400-yard freestyle relay team, which came in ninth.

Taner comes from a family of highly competitive swimmers. His father and coach at Serra, Ugur Taner, was a multiple NCAA champion, world champion and Olympian. His mother, Liesl Taner, was an NCAA champion for the University of Arizona and the national team. Brooks’ grandfather, John Kolbisen, was a junior Olympic breastroke swimmer and founder of the Mavericks Swim Team in Half Moon Bay.    

Taner will be following in his mother’s footsteps and swimming for the University of Arizona Wildcats next year on an academic and athletic scholarship. 

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