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Ukiah Dolphins Swim Team Honors Athletes in Virtual Awards Ceremony


The following is a press release issued by the Ukiah Dolphins:

Ukiah Dolphins shared their virtual annual awards ceremony on Thanksgiving Day via YouTube. Traditionally the swim and water polo members get together for an annual banquet to celebrate it’s members. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 it was not possible this year. This year was also unique in that the swim season was cut short and there was no water polo season as a result of Covid-19.

Coach Lee Pantteja

Ukiah Dolphins announced renaming two existing annual awards to honor two past coaches. They announced the Lee Pantteja Most Outstanding Swimmer, Boy & Girl Award and the Rick Cleland Most Outstanding Water Polo Player Award, Boy & Girl. There will be perpetual plaques on the wall in the team room with the recipients name each year for each award.

Coach Lee Pantteja coached the Ukiah Dolphins for 38 years. He was the backbone of the swim program. Coach Lee retired 6 years ago but his name is synonymous to our team – many of our community members were coached by Coach Lee. When asked about any fond memories Coach Lee said “What athletes remember most about their time in competition is not specific races, but the relationships they had with other athletes.  This is mostly about teammates, but also involves opponents.  Lots of life-long relationships are developed, and conversations can be resumed after decades without difficulty.  I fondly remember the outstanding people who have become a part of my life through swimming and wish that for everyone who has the opportunity to be a Dolphin.”

Coach Rick Cleland

Coach Rick Cleland founded the Ukiah Dolphins Water Polo Program in 1999 with a few practices and a handful of players. The following year there were 27 players. Rick’s name is synomous with Ukiah Water Polo. Coach Cleland took the Ukiah Dolphins water polo team to Auckland, New Zealand several times over the years and to Budapest, Hungary in 2016. Coach Rick took Ukiah Dolphins to countless tournaments all over northern California, as well as an open water tournament in Oregon. Ukiah Dolphins is hopeful to have a water polo season this summer if the current health order allows.

This years recipients of the Lee Pantteja Most Outstanding Swimmer Awards were Kate Corbett and Nick Larson. Ukiah Dolphins current Coach, Charlie Barrett, was especially honored to be able to present this award having been coached by Coach Lee for many years.

Kate Corbett and Nick Larson also received the much coveted Hardeman-Pearce Award. This award is the highest tribute, which can be paid to a member of the Ukiah Dolphins Swim Team. It was established in 1961 as a memorial to Sandra Hardman and Bob Pearce, both Ukiah Dolphins, killed in an automobile accident. It is not a swimming award and is not based on the ability as a swimmer. It is presented to the boy and girl on the team who display all around good sportsmanship, who are always willing to try, and never let their team and teammates down. This award unique and more treasured because it is voted on by teammates.

Left to Right: Kate Corbett, Nick Larson, Silas Straus, not pictured Julia Salomone

Most Improved Awards were given to Julia Salomone and Silas Straus.

USA Swimming IM Ready Certificate recipients were Talla-Jett Pardini, Jack Wellington, Ella Danner, Alora Nieto, Evan Lodge, Bennett Spencer, Austin Danner and Nick Larson.

USA Swimming IMXTREME Certificate recipients were Jessica Kraemer and Nick Larson.

Ukiah Dolphins was formed in 1955 and now is a year round swim and seasonal water polo program. You can find more information about the team at and you can follow them on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFever
Picking Brains—Baring Bones—Playing it By Ear: I'm a reporter in Mendocino County and the Founder of MendoFever.

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