Athlete of the Week: Lodi's Welch, fresh off taking the TCAL breaststroke record, has club swimming records in her sights

Apr. 26—Rebecca Welch didn't want to celebrate too quickly.

After touching the wall to finish the 100-yard breaststroke, the Lodi High freshman knew she was in the neighborhood of the high 1 minute, 3 seconds, but it would come down to the hundredths of a second to see if she accomplished her goal.

And there it was on the big board at Lodi High's aquatics facility: 1:03.70. Not only had she knocked a whopping four seconds off her time from preliminaries the day before, but she now held a new Tri-City Athletic League record, breaking the 1:03.78 set by fellow Lodi High swimmer Gianni Pitto in 2018.

"I was definitely really excited when it happened, because I had the record in my head," Welch said. "I was like, 'I can do it.' It is pretty special, especially because it's my freshman year. I hope I can just keep breaking it my next three years."

The breaststroke record was the highlight of a successful day for Welch — she won the 200-yard individual medley at 2:11.49, she swam the breaststroke leg of the winning 200-yard medley relay (the team won at 1:52.23) and the first leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay (winning at 3:39.47). She will swim all four of those events next week at the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships at District 56 in Elk Grove.

The section's breaststroke record is 1:00.93, set by Davis High's Sarah Bennetts last year. That one may be a little harder to reach this year — going from 1:07.49 to 1:03.70 is a smaller step than going to 1:01.

"I do have a 1:02 as my best time, but I think a double-0 is achievable," she said. "But maybe not this year."

Welch swims year-round for the California Gold Swim Club, where she has been knocking down club records set by the same Gianni Pitto. In fact, the other three events Welch swims in has TCAL records either owned or partially-owned by Pitto. Welch said she hasn't talked to her about the record.

"She's come to our practices during the summer a couple of times," Welch said. "I do know of her because I've been breaking her club records."

Soon there will be a new batch of club records for Welch to aim for — she enters a new age bracket for the club season today.

"So I'll have club records to aim for at sections," she said, "because those count for club records as well."