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New Manzano swim coach getting early results

The Independent of Edgewood, New Mexico

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Tiana Kaula has been coaching swimming for 17 years at club level but is taking her first stab at high school coaching this year. The new Manzano coach is already seeing results as exemplified by her 200-yard freestyle relay team qualifying for the state tournament.

Manzano swimmers Jay Del Barga, Jonah Jaramillo, Caleb Torres and Naveed Jafari placed third at the APS Invite No. 2 held at West Mesa Natatorium on Dec. 17.Their time of 1 minute 40 seconds was good enough to get them qualified along with previously qualified diver Courtney Brooks. The same relay team got fifth in the 200 medley (1:58).

Brooks is a two-time state champ who was expected to qualify early in the season. Brooks again won the girls diving with a score of 257.55 while Casey Gauthier and Josh Garnham also scored with third and fourth place finishes, respectively.

Kaula grew up in Belen, which did not have a pool at the time. She moved to Hawaii but has been back for 25 years and has been coaching summers at the YMCA of late. Kaula also helped coach her son to a successful career and has swum in the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii.

"We have a lot of good talent coming up," Kaula said. "The kids have a great attitude; we're doing better this year than in previous years."

Out of eight teams scoring Manzano's girls were seventh with 58 points while the boys were fifth with 50 points. Torres, Jaramillo and Jafari teamed with Elijah Jaramillo for a sixth in the 400-free relay (3:58) while Michelle Schlavin, Sami Sword-Fehlberg, Erika Vallejos and Beth Blankenship were seventh on the girls side of the event (4:33).

Schlavin was third in the 100 backstroke (1:09) and got fourth in the 50-free (26.88). Jonah Jaramillo was fifth in the 500-free (6:02).

"They're learning," Kaula said. "Younger swimmers like Beth [Blankenship] and Caleb [Torres] give us a chance to improve. But usually swimming is last. Kids are trying to excel academically—trying to get college eligibility. Some are in other activities but grades are first—as they should be."

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Original Publication Date: December 21, 2011

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