The Maui News 2017-18 MIL Swimming and Diving All-Stars

Baldwin swimmers garner top honors: Matsumoto, Acain find success as part of MIL championship squads

Baldwin High School’s Kaimilani Matsumoto (first photo) and Kaipo Acain (second photo) helped lead the Bears to MIL titles — the girls won their 10th straight while the boys won for the seventh consecutive year. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

Kaipo Acain and Kaimilani Matsumoto both surprised themselves in the 2017-18 Maui Interscholastic League swimming season.

The Baldwin High School standouts were chosen by the league’s coaches as the MIL swimmers of the year.

Acain, a senior, won the 50- and 100-yard freestyles at the MIL championships just four years after ending a five-year hiatus from competitive swimming.

“It’s something that I’ve always been looking forward to after just training so hard,” Acain said of the boys award. “Surprised that I actually got that. I did way better than last year. I’m surprised at what I actually did this year.”

Acain is joined on the boys first team by teammates Brandon Kwock-Fukuda and Brenton Turner (diving), King Kekaulike’s Austin DeCambra, Maui Prep’s Slater Fleck, St. Anthony’s Sean Cerizo, Maui High’s Aaren Orquia, Lahainaluna’s Jaden Yip and Kamehameha Maui’s Kobe Lilio.

Kaipo Acain

“I’m honored,” Acain said.

Matsumoto, a junior, won the 200 individual medley in 2:04.87 at the state championships, resetting the all-Maui record for the second time in two weeks. She finished second in the 100 breaststroke at state after qualifying for the final in seventh place.

She was also part of the state-championship 200 medley relay. Matsumoto was one of five individual state champions among MIL girls.

“It was a great competition, honestly,” Matsumoto said from Kahului Airport on Tuesday as she waited for a flight — she will compete in the Western Sectionals meet in Federal Way, Wash., over the weekend. “I’m really proud of my team and I had a lot of fun and I was really glad that we could place well in the relay as a team, do everything as a team.

“It was really fun and really cool how we worked really well together as a team.”

Matsumoto is joined on the girls first team by teammate Rebecca Buenrostro-Gallimore, Lahainaluna’s Lexi Anderson, King Kekaulike’s Aniston Eyre, Maui High’s Jordynn Brown, Maui Prep’s Kysha Altura and Paloma Banto, and Seabury Hall’s Jasmine O’Brien and Skylar Lickle (diving).

Buenrostro-Gallimore, Anderson, Eyre and O’Brien also won state individual championships at Kihei Aquatic Center last month.

The 200 medley relay was the first swimming final of the state championship meet.

“When you start off well it really gets the ball rolling,” Matsumoto said. “It helps you gain confidence, too, I feel. So I feel like that did play a big part in how I performed in my other events.”

Matsumoto’s father Tom, the head coach for Maui Swim Club, died in April 2017 at the age of 66.

“I was always trying to impress my dad when I was younger — he was a hard man to please, he had many high standards,” Matsumoto said. “He didn’t like to tell me I did well too much — I think it was because he didn’t want me to get prideful. So, I always hope when I’m swimming that he’s looking down and he’s proud of me.”

Baldwin coach Leighton Hao is the coach of the year. The Bears girls won their 10th MIL title in a row this season, while the Baldwin boys won for the seventh straight time.

“I actually had tons of fun, it was a great experience,” said Hao, “but I couldn’t have done it without everyone on my staff — my sister Ashlyne (Hao), Arielle Obrero, my assistant coach, and our strength coach Pita Tuliau. The atmosphere that they brought, I think it changed everything for the kids. Then the kids lit it up at states, which was amazing.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Second Team

Girls–Baldwin: Kylie Carter. Lahainaluna: Hailey Bogar. Maui High: Caroline Short. Maui Prep: Irie Gonah, Noelle Sheveland. Seabury Hall: Kamille Pellettieri, Madison Eiting, Paige Nagahama. Boys–Baldwin: Josh Ooka. Kamehameha Maui: Kaeo Kaupalolo. Lahainaluna: Kendall Beam, Jordan Beam. Seabury Hall: Owen Lingenfelder.

Honorable Mention

Girls–Baldwin: Bailey Augustine. Kamehameha Maui: Riann Fujihara. Lahainaluna: Ryla Cherry, Isabella Omura, Nikki Zamani. Maui High: Katelen Orquia. Maui Prep: Danielle Bergson, Rebecca Geng, Olivia Bozich. Boys–Baldwin: Alex Strand. Kamehameha Maui: John Williamson. King Kekaulike: Jeremy Rivera. Lahainaluna: Koa Arnold. Maui Prep: Jerone Samari, Richard Nitschke, Jonah Kirkham, Dylan Smart.