Eleven members of the St. Marys Area High School Swim and Dive Team are at Bucknell University gearing up for the PIAA state meet, which begins today. Swimmers who qualified for the meet are Emma Daghir, Alex Renwick, Andrew Cotter, Corey Koss, Jeffrey Moore, Kylee Proudfit, Matt Hoffman, and Ryan Struble. Divers are Jake Burns, Kyle Pistner, and Tim Mosebarger.
For the boys, all three of the school's relay teams were able to qualify for the state meet. The 200-yard medley relay team of Corey Koss, Andrew Cotter, Alex Renwick, and Ryan Struble is seeded 17th in their event with a time of 1:42.74. District 10 team Fairview is the top seed with a time of 1:38.79. The 200-yard freestyle relay team of Matt Hoffman, Ryan Struble, Jeffrey Moore, and Andrew Cotter is seeded 16th with a time of 1:32.11. Shady Side Academy is the top seed with a time of 1:29.03. The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Corey Koss, Matt Hoffman, Jeffrey Moore, and Andrew Cotter is seeded 15th with a time of 3:21.26. Salisbury is the top seed in the event with a time of 3:16.05.
"This year it was great to help all three relays get to states for the first time in school history," Cotter said.
In addition to competing on all three relay teams, Cotter is also seeded fourth in the boys' 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 59.73. Senior Bobby Francis of Quaker Valley is seeded first with a time of 58.44. Cotter, a senior at ECC, has been swimming for 10 years and also participates in soccer. He credited participating in both sports with aiding his conditioning and also noted that he also does "lots of yardage at practice and lifting in the morning."
Renwick, a fellow senior at ECC who has also been swimming for 10 years, is a member of the 200-yard medley relay team and will be competing in the boys' 100-yard butterfly. He is seeded 30th in the event with a time of 56.89. Eric Tatum, a junior from Salisbury, is seeded first with a time of 51.68.
"The most challenging thing will be to drop time and to make sure I do the stroke correctly to achieve my goal of reaching 54 seconds in my 100-yard butterfly," Renwick said.
Renwick also competed at the state meet last year and noted that the experience means a lot to him.
"Going to states means very much to me because the season isn't over. It is a very nice experience to be able to swim at states. It is an award of its own and I am very happy to be a part of that," Renwick said.
Hoffman, a senior at St. Marys Area and a swimmer for five years, is a member of both the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
"The hardest part of my events that I will be swimming is the fact that they are relays and [there is a lot of] pressure to not let the others in the relay down by false starting or not pushing it until the end," Hoffman said.
Struble, a senior at ECC and swimmer for four years, first started swimming competitively during the summer before his freshman year of high school. As a member of the 200-yard freestyle and medley relays, he explained that his biggest challenge will be "timing my start just right, so that I get the biggest advantage I can, while still being 'fair' and not disqualifying the relay."
This is his first year competing in the state meet.
"Last year I attended as an alternate. It is a tremendous accomplishment for me to be competing at the state meet. This is the highest level of swimming at the high school level. Swimming at states is the perfect way to end my swimming career," Struble said.
Moore is also a member of the 200-yard and 400-yard relay teams. A junior at ECC, he has been swimming for five years and will also be competing in the boys' 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle.
"The nerves are the most challenging thing to overcome," Moore said. "Seeing everyone else in the event that is bigger and looks stronger is very intimidating and that is tough to overcome."
In the 200-yard freestyle, he is seeded 31st with a time of 1:53:13. Fairview's Harrison Grimm is the top seed with a time of 1:44.14. In the 500-yard freestyle, Moore is seeded 32nd with a time of 5:08.63. The top seed in that event is West York's Bradley Strathmeyer with a time of 4:38.84.
The final member of the 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard freestyle relay teams is ECC sophomore Corey Koss. Koss will also be competing in the boys' 200-yard IM, where he is seeded 31st with a time of 2:13.77. Bobby Francis of Quaker Valley is the top seed in the event with a time of 1:55.14.
A three-sport athlete, Koss also participates in soccer in the fall and track and field in the spring. This marks his third year swimming, and he noted that it was his involvement in other sports that led him to consider swimming.
"The year before I started swimming I didn't do anything in the winter and I regretted it in the spring when I tried to keep up in soccer and track. I joined swimming the year after and it started out being so difficult I wasn't sure if I would join the next year for high school," Koss said. "I ended up trying it, and on that first day of practice on my way over to [St. Marys Area], one of my soon-to-be-teammates approached me. He asked if I joined swimming that year. I answered 'yes' and he offered his hand to me, introduced himself as Alex Renwick, and welcomed me to the family. He made that simple connection with me, allowing me to feel like I belonged and was welcomed."
The other swimmers agreed with Koss' description of the swim team as a big family.
"We are so much more than just a team, we are a family," Hoffman said. "Everything we put into the sport is not to benefit ourselves, but to benefit us as a whole and make the team stronger. We always have each others' back. We even argue with each other like siblings."
In the boys' 1-meter diving event, St. Marys divers Jake Burns, Tim Mosebarger, and Kyle Pistner are seeded 22nd, 23rd, and 24, respectively.
A senior at SMA, Burns has been swimming and diving for five years.
"In order to get better at my main event, diving, I practice hard every day," Burns said. "Repetition is the key to diving. First we warm up by stretching, and then we 'hit the board!' as coach would say."
"Almost all the effort we put into diving goes toward the finesse and technique of the dive," Burns added. "Learning the dive is simple. It's just a matter of overcoming your fear of trying a new, and sometimes frightening, dive. The most challenging part of diving is cleaning up the dive and making it look 'pretty.'"
For Burns, reverse dives are the most challenging to execute.
"I have bad experiences with these types of dives because I have hit the board trying to perform them," Burns said.
In addition to Burns, St. Marys Area's other two divers, Mosebarger and Pistner, are a sophomore and freshman, respectively.
"This is my first time, and chance, to go to states," Pistner said. "It really means a lot to me since I made it as a freshman."
"Since this is my first year, I don't really know what to expect. I'm just going to try my best and see where it gets me," Pistner added.
For the girls, Kylee Proudfit, a junior at ECC, is seeded 32nd in the girls' 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:11.86. Rebekah Campo of Scranton Prep is the top seed with a time of 1:04.23.
"I have been swimming since I was three and I started swimming competitively when I was six years old. I started swimming because of my brother," Proudfit said. "I practice year-round for swimming, whether it is practicing with the team or by myself at a local pool. It is a sport that you need to constantly work at. It is not something that comes easy. Dedication is a must for swimmers. If you don't enjoy it, then it will almost be impossible to last through the season."
Proudfit remarked that she enjoys swimming because it has introduced her to so many people; however, she also acknowledged that the sport has also presented its fair share of challenges.
"For me, the most challenging part is trying to keep my attitude positive when I'm really worn out. I think the most challenging part of competing at states is going to be the competition. There are some crazy good swimmers at this meet, and it will be hard to calm my nerves," Proudfit said.
She also credited her participation in cross country this past fall with helping her better condition for swimming.
"I did (cross country) for something to get me in better shape, and I also just wanted something else to do so I would not get worn out with my swimming. I think that running cross country really did help me with my swimming because it helped me work out in a different way and it put me in better shape," Proudfit said.
Also representing the Lady Dutch squad at states is Emma Daghir, a sophomore at ECC. Daghir has been swimming for five years and will be competing in the girls' 50-yard freestyle. She is seeded 31st with a time of 25.81. Mercyhurst Prep's Rylee Klomp is seeded first with a time of 23.69.
"In my event, the 50 freestyle, the hardest part would have to be for me to have my turns perfect and for me to move my arms as fast as I can and try not to breathe more than four times in that race," Daghir said.
A three-sport athlete, Daghir also competes in soccer and track and field.
"I do think that swimming helps me condition for track. It helps my breathing," Daghir said.