Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

With a handful of former Empire prep greats qualifying for next year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the region continues gaining prominence in the sport.

Maya DiRadoAmanda Sims

Several more swimmers still in the high school ranks could add their names to the ranks of Olympic hopefuls.

All have come out of the elite level of the Santa Rosa Neptunes swim club.

“Our program has been established. So now kids are growing up in the system,” said Neptunes swimming director Dan Greaves. “We’ve kind of changed the culture within our swimming community. You can start at a certain age and follow what we’re doing and get there.”

Making the Olympic team is the ultimate goal. Yet these swimmers have accomplished much already at the high school, college and national levels.

Founded in 1955, the club has sent swimmers to past Olympic trials. The latest group is the largest, Greaves said.

“This is the first time we’ve had a crop of them,” he said.

Empire swimmers to qualify for the Olympic trials:

–Molly Hannis, Santa Rosa High/Tennessee, 100 breaststroke.

— Amanda Sims, Montgomery/California, 100 and 200 butterfly, 50 freestyle.

–Maya DiRado, Maria Carrillo/Stanford, 200 and 400 freestyle, 100 and 200 backstroke, 200 and 400 individual medley.

–Penelope Yamauchi, Montgomery/Arizona State, 200 breaststroke.

–Sophia Yamauchi, Montgomery/UC Santa Barbara, 100 breaststroke.

A trio of high school standouts could also qualify if they continue to improve times.

–Taylor Young, Ursuline, 100 and 200 breaststroke.

–Sam Haley, Windsor, 200 butterfly.

–Allie Davis, Windsor, 200 freestyle.