Big day for Marlins at Junior Olympic swim meet

The Yosemite Marlins Swim Club, lead by Head Coach Tammy Kudela, brought home a pile of medals after placing eighth overall out of 27 teams at the July 23-26 Central California Section Swimming Junior Olympic Championship Meet at the Clovis West Olympic Swim complex.

Fifteen Marlin swimmers attended the meet and although the group of athletes was one of the smallest teams who competed in the event, Kudela said it was the largest Martin rteam members went to meet, one of the smallest teams who competed in the meet. Kudela said it was the largest Marlin team that has yet qualified for, and participated in this large annual competition.

“Our swimmers did phenomenal,” said Coach Kudela. “We had some amazing swims and almost every team member swam their personal best times in one of more events. Collectively the whole team rose to the occasion, allowing us to place much higher in the team standings compared to the last two times our team has competed in a Junior Olympic meet.”

Claire Tuggle continued her dominance in the pool by winning the “High Point Award” honor for her age group.

“Claire’s swimming continues to get better and stronger,” Kudela. “In her age group, she was unbeatable at this meet. From her performance at the meet, she is now ranked No. 1 amongst 11-year-olds in the nation in the 400 meter freestyles with a time of 4:36.82, improving on her time by almost a second.”

The 10-year-old record she holds in the 400 free was previously held by current Olympian Elizabeth Bieisel.

At the meet, earning important points for the team, included:

* Claire Tuggle, 11, scored the highest number of points in her age group by winning all eight events she was entered in.

* DeBernardi, 9, placed in the top five in all eight events that he entered in for the 9-10 age group.

* Josh Johnson gained points for the team by finishing in the top 13 in all eight of his events.

* Theo Tuggle, 14, swam in seven events, winning the 200 meter butterfly and surpassing the zone cut by four seconds. He placed in the top five of his additional six races.

* Mulkey, 18, scored points for the team by winning the 50 and 100 meter freestyle events in his age group.

* Max Tuggle, 8, finished in the top 13 in six out of his eight events. That includes two events competing in the 10 and under division.

* Cory Jones, 12, placed fourth in the 200 IM, and huge drops in her times in all her events.

* Parker Jones, 13, placed in the top 12 in five of her eight events, making significant improvements in her times in all her events.

* The 11-12 girls relay squad, consisting of Cory Jones, Claire Tuggle, Cora Lowery, and MacKenzie Arnold, participated in four relay races. The team placed third in the 400 medley, third in the 400 freestyle, fourth in the 200 medley (missing third by 0.1 of a second), and second in the 200 free relay.

Kudela said the success of the team is based on swimmers that are committed to hard work, have strong parental support, and a dedicated staff of coaches including Terri LeQuia, Jules Tuggle, Renee Johnson, Dawniele Oliphant, and Rachel DeBernardi.

Kudela added that team members Jones, DeBernardi, Mulkey, and Johnson, had performances that advanced them from ‘B’ level swimmers to “AA” level swimmers in their age groups. Johnson, 12, missed advancing to the “Triple A” level by just 0.3 of a second in the 200 meter backstroke.

Based on their performances at the meet, Johnson, Calire Tuggle, and Theo Tuggle were selected out of a very competitive pool of candidates to be members of the Central Cal Swimming Zone Team. They will attend the Western Zone Championship Meet Aug. 2-9, in Maui, Hawaii.

Kudela coach of the year

Kudela, who has been coaching swimming for more than 25 years, was honored during the meet by being named Central California Swimming Section 2014-15 short course season age-group Coach of the Year.

“I was pleasantly surprised to receive this honor, but I share this recognition with my Yosemite Marlins assistant coaches and all of our swimmers,” Kudela said.

Kudela, a former high school swimmer who was a multi-medal winner and all-American in the CIF section in Southern California, started out coaching recreational swim teams in the Merced Recreational League about 25 years ago.

Although swim o techniques have changed over the years, the one consistent thing that she sees in swimming is that the children that are eager to learn, are highly dedicated, and have a strong work ethic, are the ones that succeed at the highest level of swimming.”

Yosemite Marlins Swim Club

The nonprofit Yosemite Marlins Swim Club is owned by Yosemite Unified School District and sanctioned by USA Swimming, which is the governing body for competitive swimming associated with the U.S. Olympic team.

The team is a year-round competitive swim team offering high quality, professional coaching and technique instruction for all ages and abilities. The goal of the program is to provide every team member an opportunity to improve swimming skills and achieve success at his or her level of ability.

All of the Marlin coaches, as members of the American Swimming Coaches Association, have access to the most comprehensive training and certification program for youth coaches.

For information on joining the club or learning more about the Marlins, visit, or call head Coach Tammy Kudela, (559) 213-3304.