By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PETALUMA — Analy swim coach Lehla Irwin has seen races lost because a swimmer went out too fast and got tired, or scratched by entering the pool too early during a relay, or failed to get to the starting block in time for the start.
Friday, she saw her kids lose a race because one of them was wearing the wrong swimsuit.
Wait, scratch that. Analy didn’t simply lose the boys 200-yard freestyle relay because of a disqualification at the Sonoma County League swim championships at the Petaluma Swim Center. The Tigers saw the boys’ team championship slip through their paws.
The Analy quartet of juniors Luke Ressler and Cosmo Hahn, freshman Dominic Restivo and sophomore Jack Murphy won the 200 free relay with a time of 1:35.89 on Friday. A little while later, though, Irwin learned that officials had disqualified Restivo for not wearing his team swim suit.
The Tigers lost the 40 points they thought they had earned for winning the race, and rival Sonoma Valley gained six points in moving up from second to first on the official sheet. Sonoma wound up winning the boys’ championship by a mere 14 points, so this result was crucial.
The problem was that Restivo never received his team swim suit, because a container of Adidas gear never made it to NorCal Swim Shop in Napa. With no Analy gear, Restivo was swimming in his Piranha Swimming club suit. It was navy blue. The Analy suits are also navy blue. The only difference was the logo.
Irwin said she never noticed the discrepancy, and as race director for the SCL championships she certainly had a lot on her plate Thursday and Friday. One of Restivo’s club instructors was helping to officiate the league meet, and quickly noticed the nonstandard gear. The official had no choice but to disqualify.
“I assumed he knew all year,” Irwin said of Restivo. “I had been talking about it all year. Really, the other boys could have noticed it, too, but he’s wearing a towel. All of us were at fault. But those things happen.”
The Analy boys 200 free relay team had qualified for North Coast Section consideration, but discovered Monday that it narrowly missed the cut for the section meet. It may have been a small consolation, or at least a measure of relief, that the boys wouldn’t have qualified for the NCS meet even if their winning time Friday had been counted.
Craig Dillingham, co-owner of NorCal Swim, lamented his shop’s role in the reversal, as well as the “archaic high school rules” that disqualified Restivo.
“Being a retired swim coach,” Dillingham said, “that’s terrible.”