Breastroke swimmer
MULTI-TALENTED Graduating HHS senior Hadley Reuter is a top competitor on the girls swim team as well as a star culinary student at the high school. (Photo by Michael Lucid)

The girls swim team from Healdsburg High School delivered their strongest performance in years at the North Bay League’s windy championships last weekend.

The high-stakes meet was held at the new, state-of-the-art pool at Santa Rosa Junior College—its deck teeming with 222 amped-up teens from the 10 schools that make up the league.

“The kids were all excited,” said Healdsburg’s head coach, Dean Clark. “For our kids from a small school, they get to be at a place where there are a lot of other kids their age, and they get to experience what it’s like to swim against some really good swimmers.”

And, the coach added, “They always step up.”

Over the course of the 2024 season, the HHS girls team steadily racked up wins and whittled down race times to nab the No. 1 spot in their division—the five-team Redwood Division within the North Bay League—and place third out of 10 teams in last weekend’s league meet, up from their fifth-place finish last year.

Backstroke Swimmer
LOCAL CHAMP Healdsburg High School sophomore Layla Greaves swims backstroke at a meet earlier this season. Greaves will represent Healdsburg in the 100-yard backstroke and butterfly races at the North Coast Section championships. (Photo by Michael Lucid)

“The vibes were good” at finals last Friday and Saturday, said Healdsburg’s top swimmer, sophomore Layla Greaves. “Everybody was in a good mood. It was super fun.”

This time, at finals, the HHS girls fell only to Santa Rosa powerhouse Maria Carrillo High, whose swimmers have swept league championships year after year, and the Cardinal Newman private school in Larkfield-Wikiup, another local powerhouse. Coach Clark said this is the highest Healdsburg’s girls have ranked since he started coaching five years ago.

Their counterparts on the HHS boys team are more accustomed to punching above their weight: They’ve taken home gold in the division and silver in the league for the past two years in a row. This year, though, the boys dropped to second in the division—after being bested by Windsor—and sixth in the league.

Coach Clark attributed this dip mostly to a classic high school turnover issue: Nearly half the team’s members last year were seniors and none were juniors, leaving the 2024 team slim (at 10 members) and inexperienced. “For a small team, they still did great this year,” he said. “They had some really good swims.”

Standout performances last weekend included Healdsburg junior Leo Kluse taking fifth and sixth in his sprint freestyle races, and the boys team taking fourth in the 400-yard freestyle relay.

The Girls Are Cooking 

Many of Healdsburg’s girls likewise clocked great personal swims that day. Freshman Ela Boardman came in third in the 500-yard freestyle and fourth in the 200-yard individual medley. 

Senior Hadley Reuter—a star culinary student at the high school—placed eighth in both the 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard breaststroke. The girls also claimed bronze in two of the meet’s three relays.

But it was Greaves who took the cake. She finished second in both of her races, the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly—and with fast enough times to qualify for the North Coast Section championships in San Ramon this weekend.

“I definitely did better than I thought,” Greaves said. Last year, as a freshman, she was again the only Healdsburg swimmer to move onto sectionals. Once there, she came in 20th and 22nd in her races.

This year, based on her recent times, Greaves said she is seeded 10th out of 40 swimmers across the region. If she places in the top two, she’ll go to state.

Healdsburg’s star sophomore swimmer is also approaching the school record her own mother set in the 100-yard backstroke while attending HHS in the ’90s, according to Greaves and coach Clark. Her goal is to beat that record—and she still has a couple of years to try.

Having a dynamo like the younger Greaves on the team has the effect of lifting all boats, according to her coach. “Even though Layla is this exceptional swimmer, and her teammate Ela is a very good swimmer as well, what it really does is inspire everybody else to improve—to do better, to train harder,” said Clark.

At the league meet, because the top 16 finishers in each race add points to their teams’ total score, Clark said, “Everybody counts. It adds up.”

And there’s reason for HHS to hold even higher hopes for next year, as both the girls and boys swim teams will retain much of their top talent. Clark said he was blown away by how much each of these swimmers improved during the 2024 season.

 “We’re so proud of them, my fellow coaches and I,” he said. “The kids just shine.”

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Simone Wilson was born and raised in Healdsburg, CA, where she was the editor of the Healdsburg High School Hound's Bark. She has since worked as a local journalist for publications in San Diego, Los Angeles, New York City and the Middle East. Simone is now a senior product manager and staff writer for the Healdsburg Tribune.


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