by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha junior girls swimmer Rae Ritacco took second in the 200 IM and the 500 free against Sunset.

You’ll have to pardon Aloha’s Rae Ritacco if she’s a little fuzzy on the strict racing regulations of high school girls’ swimming.

At the Warriors’ dual meet with Sunset on Thursday, Ritacco caught up to Sunset’s Hansika Rau on the breaststroke portion of the 200 IM, and swam down the Apollo during the final 50 meters of freestyle to touch the wall first for the win.

It was a bold photo finish to the end, a sterling victory that had both the Aloha boys’ and girls’ team howling with joy for the rookie Ritacco, a former synchronized swimmer who competed in the choreographed water activity for nine years.

All was well and good until head coach Lisa Leslie noted Ritacco swam 25 meters of backstroke and 75 meters breaststroke, which automatically disqualified the Warrior junior from the 200 IM and gave the win to Rau. Technicalities aside, Ritacco was a whirling sprinter, who, once she gets the dual-meet stipulations down, could be a valuable point scorer for the Aloha girls.

Ritacco acknowledged she’s not really sure how to race just yet, but she loves competing in the 200 IM because she gets exposed to four different strokes. She’d like to learn the 500 free and the proper pacing it takes to be a factor for Aloha because she’s an enthusiast of distance events. Against Sunset, Ritacco took second place with a 6:10 finish.

“I get to do everything, try everything and go all out,” said Ritacco, who was also on Aloha’s 200 and 400 free relays. “I really take it each 50 at a time, focusing on each individual stroke. I make sure I power through all of them.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset girls swimmer Hanskia Rau won the 200 IM for the Apollos who rolled over Aloha on Thursday.

Ritacco joined the Warrior swim team this year to try something different, but continue her love for aquatic sports. Ritacco’s mom is an assistant coach for Aloha and her younger brother is a promising freshman for the Warrior boys’ swim team. Additionally, the Spanish exchange student living with the Ritaccos this year is out for swimming, making it a true family event.

“I was like, ‘Well, why not? Let’s all do it’,” said Ritacco. “It’s been a lot of fun, but very different. I find that I don’t really know all of the rules and logistics. I just kind of know how to swim the stroke, but not do it without getting disqualified.”

Aloha freshman Jordan Ashmore said she didn’t swim as fast as she wanted, but was content with her duo of first places in the 50 free (25.11) and 200 free (2:07.89). The freshman also anchored the 200 and 400 free relay that placed second overall.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset girls swimmer Haley Fellows won the 100 backstroke for the Apollos who rolled over Aloha.

“I thought it was OK,” said Ashmore. “I had a better race last time at our last meet, so I’m hoping I can do better next time.”

A noted club swimmer who’s enjoyed swimming at the high school level because of the Warriors’ team chemistry, Ashmore is Aloha’s fastest sprinter who sticks to a strict game plan when it comes to short distance.

“With the 50 free, I just sprint the whole thing because that’s all it is,” said Ashmore. “There’s not enough time to pace it out, but, in the 200 free, I try to not go out with all my speed because I’ll die coming back. I normally try to pace that one and come back strong in the last 100.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset girls swimmer Nina Stitt won two events for the Apollos against Aloha, including the 100 butterfly.

Though Ashmore is heralded as a sprinter, she’s capable of competing in the 100 backstroke, 100 free or the longer freestyles.

Ashmore said making junior nationals in six events and notching the state-qualifying times in at least four events are among her lofty goals for the rest of the season.

Sara Emerick took third in the 100 free (1:06) for the Warriors. The 400 free relay team of Ritacco, Ashmore, Emerick and Arianna Gaspar placed third overall.

Sunset stormed to a 126-43 win at the Aloha swimming pool, taking first or second in every event at the Metro League dual meet. Nina Stitt won the 100 butterfly (1:04.93) and was the leadoff swimmer for the Apollos’ 200 free relay.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunsets Camille Andre won the 500 freestyle against Aloha in the Apollos first Metro League dual meet.

Kate Westlake outouched Rau in the 100 freestyle (1:03.19) for first place. Hailey Fellows and Jaime Jeffers went one-two in the 100 backstroke and the Sunset trio of Emily Chang Katie Callahan,and Jocelyn Lauderback swept the 100 breaststroke.

Camille Andre won the 500 free (6:06) and the Apollos’ 200 IM, 200 free and 400 free relays took first.

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