Eppler, Goates win Valley Titles

By Andrea Camarena

Exeter sophomores Samantha Goates and Megan Eppler stand out. It's not something new, they've been doing it ever since they made their first leap into the pool.

Both girls have proven themselves at all levels of swimming, in all strokes. The two are members of the Tule Nation Tritons (TNT) swim team in Tulare and dominated in the pool in their first two years in high school as well.

At last week's Valley swim meet, Goates earned All-American status swimming the 100-yard backstroke in 57.06 for a Valley record.

She also received All-American consideration for swimming the 50 free in 24.16 seconds.

Eppler, who is two years younger but in the same grade, is a distance freestyler but also excels at the 200 back stroke. She took first place in the 200 individual medley at Valley. Her time, 2:07.44, broke the Central California Swim record.

&#8220This year has been better than last year, especially Valley,” Eppler said. &#8220It feels like there's not as much pressure.”

Eppler's goals for the next year include qualifying for the Junior Nationals. She only needs to cut a half second off of her 200-back time to qualify.

Goates has already reached qualifying times for the Junior Nationals and the U.S. Open. She qualified for the baskstroke at the Valley meet.

Goates broke two records at the Valley Meet.

She broke the CIFCS Division II record in the 100 back with a time of 57.06. She also broke the Club Swim Central California Swimming record for the 100 Back with the same time.

&#8220This year, I've made some cuts I've been wanting to make. The record feels a lot better now,” Goates said.

Now, Goates' next goal is to qualify for the U.S. Nationals where she can compete for a spot on the Olympic team. Goates hopes to cut to qualifying times within the next year. She is only one second away in the 100-back.

&#8220I'm really trying for the U.S. Nationals within the next year,” Goates said.

Both girls spend most of their free time in the pool. They have two workouts a day spending two hours practicing for the High School team followed by two and a half hours working out with TNT.

As for the TNT training sessions, the girls agree that the workout is hard, &#8220sometimes brutal.”

&#8220It takes up all of our time,” Goates said. &#8220This is our fourth straight weekend in a row swimming.”

&#8220They are a thrill to train,” TNT coach Phil Black said. &#8220The coaches in Exeter are phenomenal in supporting those kids.”

The girls need support with the rigorous training and tough competition outside of the Valley.

The two spend most weekends together traveling up and down the state. The toughest competitors come from the L.A. area.

&#8220We're really competitive with the people down south,” Goates said. &#8220Their times are so much faster than anything up here. I want to bring our local records down to those faster times.”

The biggest upcoming meet for both girls is the US Open to be held in December in Purdue, Calif.

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