Sobrato’s Ly, Hatch making waves

Bulldogs sophomore Annie Ly has qualified for the CCS Championships in three events. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Sobrato High sophomore Annie Ly and senior Jacob Hatch are on the move. Both swimmers are coming off tremendous seasons, and Ly has already qualified for three events in the CCS Championships and Hatch is expected to qualify for at least one event. Ly ended last season on a high, finishing in 10th place in her best event, the 100 butterfly. That performance gave Ly a lot of confidence and optimism that she could possibly advance all the way to the CIF State Championships this season. 

“That is definitely a goal,” she said. “I’m striving for that 56 (second time). I feel like training is going well and I’m prepared (to nail some personal-records soon).”

Ly considers the 200 individual medley her second best event, something that she takes pride in. Since swimmers do all four strokes in the medley event, they have to be well-rounded to be successful. It also forces swimmers to strategize when competing in the race. 

“I really try to take it out (fast) in the first 100 because I know the breast stroke is not my strongest stroke,” she said. “Then I try to swim it home in the last 50 to make up time I lose in the breast stroke.”

Ly has been working on being ultra-efficient under water, since swimmers can save energy and gain distance at the same time. The super sophomore constantly works on technique to hone her skills and keep her form strong. 

“I practice technique on my turns and make sure to pull as much water while not creating drag,” she said. 

Unlike most of her peers who qualify for CCS, Ly didn’t start swimming competitively until she was 10 or 11, which has probably worked in her favor because swimming year-round takes a toll on an athlete, especially mentally. The later start means Ly doesn’t have as much wear and tear and mileage on her body, and has yet to peak. Ly, who has maintained straight A’s since her freshman year, usually crashes when she gets home, utterly exhausted from school and the occasional twice-daily practices combining high school and club workouts. 

Hatch has been grinding away as well, knowing it will give him a chance to produce multiple PRs within the next month. Hatch, whose best event is the 100 backstroke, had competed solely in the 100-and 200 free in the first two dual meets to score points for the team. 

“Right now I’m building a lot of endurance for the 200 free, so for eight laps I try to pull more water,” he said. “I’m grinding out the sets so when it comes to race day I’ll be ready to accomplish what I set out to do.”

Hatch qualified for CCS in the back stroke in his freshman and junior seasons. He has a PR of 56 seconds in the event, but said he can possibly drop a couple of seconds to the 53, 54 second range. 

“The practice, preparation and motivation from my teammates, parents and everyone around me gives me confidence,” he said. “I still feel like I can go faster and place higher (in CCS). I want to get a CCS cut(off) time in at least the 100 or 200.”

Hatch uses swimming to prepare himself for the water polo season, which happens to be his best sport. It’s no coincidence the best water polo players are also excellent swimmers. Hatch, who scored 108 goals during his senior water polo season, utilizes his 6-foot-4 frame to excel in both sports. 

“Swimming season keeps me in great shape and it helps me work on my speed,” he said. “I try to make sure I’m faster than everyone else. My mindset before a race is to leave it all in the pool and be the first one out of the pool.” 

Hatch, who hopes to earn a Division I scholarship to play water polo, only takes a week or two off in August from athletics during the entire calendar year. 

“And even then I usually don’t take a break because I’m lifting or doing something to keep in shape,” he said. 

Hatch remains close with his older brother, Jarod, who is swimming at Cal and established himself as one of the greatest swimmers in Sobrato High history. The two communicate everyday, either by text or by playing video games together at separate locations. Hatch also credits his parents, Jason and Gielanie, for helping him develop into a high-achieving student-athlete. Just like Ly, Hatch takes his academics seriously, knowing the time he puts in studying—especially in his major in college—will pay off in a fulfilling career down the road. 

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