All-Empire girls swimming: Petaluma’s Scott doesn’t do the norm

Petaluma High School's Riley Scott.  (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

Petaluma High School’s Riley Scott.
(CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

When it came to achieving success in the pool, Riley Scott found her own lane, so to speak.

Most of the elite swimmers to emerge from the Redwood Empire over the past decade have gone through the Neptune Swimming club in Santa Rosa, and most (not all) have been concentrated in a few strong high school programs like Maria Carrillo, Montgomery and Analy.

Scott’s route was atypical. She does her high school swimming at Petaluma, a program not known for its dominance in the pool. And she trains not with the Neptunes but with the Marin Pirates, a smaller club run by Warren Lager and based in Novato.

“I feel like I’m basically covering more ground,” Scott said. “I swam with Westside Aquaducks (in Petaluma) when I was younger and I teach swim lessons in Petaluma, plus I’m connected with Petaluma High School. But there’s a big part of me in Marin. A lot of my friends on the Pirates go to Marin High School. It’s nice to have a lot of different friends.”

You certainly can’t argue with the results. Scott took first place in the 200-yard individual medley at the North Coast Section Swimming & Diving Championships in May — Petaluma’s first NCS swim title in more than a decade — and finished second in the 100 breaststroke.

Her 200 IM victory was perhaps the more satisfying of the two. Scott touched the wall in 1:59.98, the first time she had cracked 2 minutes in the event. But it was her 100 breast performance that had swim insiders talking. Her time was 1:00.52, the fifth fastest recorded by a high school girl in the nation this year. The girl who beat her in Concord, old friend Heidi Poppe of San Ramon Valley, won in 59.85 seconds, the second fastest time in the country.

“I didn’t even know if I was going to shave and taper for that meet. It was kind of up in air,” Scott said. “I felt good about a week before the meet, so we said let’s keep going. I shaved and did really well. I did half of the resting I usually do. That meet, you have a lot of adrenaline because you have a lot of D-I (college) competition, a lot of rivals.”

Scott has been on the local radar screen since her freshman year, when she narrowly missed qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200 breast as a 14-year-old. Since then she has practiced primarily with the Pirates, showing up for Petaluma dual meets and the Sonoma County League championships this past year. Scott tries to lead by example, and she helped the Trojans set a school record in the girls’ 200-yard medley relay.

Scott will swim at the U.S. Senior Nationals at Irvine in August, and she’s plenty busy before then. She gives lessons to younger kids at Cavanaugh Pool, and she has a twice-a-week internship at an attorney’s office in Novato.

“She has to balance everything, and Riley seems to be able to balance school, training, life, her schedule,” said Liz Seymour, the swim coach at Petaluma High. “Swim’s a hard sport. There’s a lot of time traveling, a lot of outside training — weights, yoga, all that. So it’s a big time commitment. To do all those and still do well in school, as Riley does, is impressive.”

On July 1, the first day colleges were allowed to make contact with incoming high school seniors, Scott committed to USC. In a year, she will be a teammate of Male Swimmer of the Year, Analy’s Jon Knox.

“I chose USC because I immediately felt at home on campus and with the coaching staff,” Scott said. “When you know, you know. I cannot wait to be a Trojan. … I am grateful to have made my decision early so I can focus on swimming fast this summer and my senior year.

Phil Barber can be reached at Phil.Barber@pressdemocrat.com.

FEMALE SWIMMER OF THE YEAR
Riley Scott, Petaluma, junior

FIRST TEAM
Marie Alameida, Analy, freshman
Lani Auva’a, Analy, sophomore
Jenna Bauer, Montgomery, senior
Piper Brockley, Maria Carrillo, sophomore
Alexandra Fong, Maria Carrillo, freshman
Victoria Le, Maria Carrillo, junior
Micaela Luders, Windsor, senior
Lily Maxfield, Analy, junior
Angelica Nowack, Montgomery, senior
Celine Sargis, Santa Rosa, senior
Berklee Welsh, Santa Rosa, sophomore

SECOND TEAM
Reilly Clarkson, Santa Rosa, freshman
Brigette Eager, Rancho Cotate, sophomore
Jessica Lee, Windsor, junior
Caroline Mertz, Santa Rosa, sophomore
Theresa Nowack, Montgomery, freshman
Elizabeth Petty, Maria Carrillo, junior
Eva Ratcliffe, Montgomery, sophomore
Christy Schlutius, Analy, sophomore
Maggie Selzer, Ukiah, sophomore
Sara Soares, Analy, junior
Jasmine Yount, Maria Carrillo, freshman

COACH OF THE YEAR
Lehla Irwin, Analy

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