PIAA CLASS AA SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Hard-earned confidence Hard-earned confidence BY PETE KAUFFMAN, Sports Writer
The Beatles sang that "Eight days a week ... is not enough to show I care.''
Eight practices a week, however, is more than enough to show how much Everett Albert cares -- about swimming.
Albert, a Lancaster Catholic senior, said he routinely puts in eight practices a week with the Diplomat Swim Club. And that's year round, not just during the scholastic season.
That dedication has paid off quite handsomely for Albert, as he heads into today's PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships as the top seed in the 200-yard individual medley.
The annual state championship meet will again be held at Bucknell University, beginning at 8 a.m. today and running through finals of the last five boys' events slated for 8:15-9:45 p.m. Thursday.
The Class AAA crew takes over the Kinney Natatorium on Friday and Saturday.
With Bucknell hosting the finals of the Patriot League men's basketball tournament tonight, there's been a slight modification to the Class AA meet, but it really only impacts where swimmers will be staged prior to the competition.
For Albert, a state-meet veteran of four years, nothing seems to really bother him at this point of his career.
Not even competing in the IM, which is perhaps the most grueling event in high school swimming as it takes a mastery of all four of the disciplines -- butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle -- to become successful.
"I think for me, in my head, Wednesday night is going to be like one of my best memories of swimming,'' Albert said Saturday.
Albert will compete in the IM today, then in the 500 freestyle on Thursday. He will also be part of the Crusaders' 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
He said he doesn't have any expectations in the 500, in which he is seeded fourth, except to "try and race for gold. Just race the kids next to me.'' He said he hoped the relays could earn medals with top-eight finishes.
Albert said he has chalked up more than just a handful of great memories: "The people that I met, not only friends, but coaches and people I've been able to meet through Catholic High swimming, those are the things that I'll remember most.''
He's also chalked up quite an impressive r'sum' in the water.
Individually, he holds the Crusaders' team records in the 200 IM (1:54.56), 50 free (21.98) and 100 free (47.90).
Albert also teamed with Jacob Robinson, John Hughes and Thomas Malloy to set the 200 medley record of 1:38.79 his freshman season. He swam with Robinson, Zack Miklos and Stuart Cubbison to set the 400 free relay record of 3:15.58 as a sophomore.
Cubbison, who is now a sophomore at Gettysburg College, said of Albert in a email: "He's got that competitive drive, he gives 110 percent --always -- and he will not lose.''
When Albert was a freshman, former Catholic coach Matt DePietro started calling him "The Mailman.''
"It doesn't really get brought up too often, but when it does, it puts a smile on my face,'' Albert said of the nickname. "Matt gave that name to me my freshman year, after our meet with Hempfield came down to the 400 free relay. He expected me -- as a freshman --to win events.''
Those kind of expectations have stayed with Albert throughout his career.
Current Crusaders head coach Miles Cubbison, who is the father of Stuart, said of Albert in an email: "He delivers because, first of all, he believes he can do it, and secondly, he knows he's done the work required to accomplish this.''
"What makes him a good swimmer is his ability to perform under pressure, especially in close race situations,'' Mike Swanson, Diplomat head senior coach, said in an email. "He is able to keep his stroke technique and tempo in place, even when the competition is bearing down on him, which really gives him an advantage.''
The competition, especially in the form of Mars Area junior Christopher Georgiadis, will certainly be going after Albert in the IM.
Albert (1:54.56) set his school record in taking third in the IM last year, finishing just ahead of Georgiadis (1:56.71) and behind the since-graduated Richard Petrella (1:52.69) of Fairview and Bobby Francis (1:53.60) of Quaker Valley. The other four finalists from 2012 were seniors as well.
"It's going to be hard, going in as the top seed. You know everyone has their sights set on you.'' Albert said. "At the same time, the 200 IM is a race I've swam so many times, I feel confident I can go out there and swim my own race. If it all comes together, I feel I can win.''
Albert said Catholic hasn't had a state champion since Andrew Thorn won the 500 free as a junior in 2003, then the 200 free and 500 free as a senior in 2004.
"My freshman year, I kind of came in timid; not used to what would be expected of me. But I had a goal in my mind to be a state champion,'' Albert said. "Back then, it seemed a pretty lofty goal I might not be able to reach. That's what's been pushing me so hard. I think I'm almost there.''
Also pushing forward in the state meet with top-eight seeds are:
Manheim Central freshman Matt Daniel, eighth seed in the 500 free; Northern Lebanon junior Ethan Gehenio, eighth seed in the 200 IM and seventh seed in the 100 backstroke; and Lancaster Catholic junior Rachael DePietro, tied for the seventh seed in the 100 backstroke.
nLancaster Catholic's Everett Albert, seeded first in the 200 individual medley, has both the mindset and work ethic to improve on last year's third-place finish.