Henry Gingrich

Manheim Township's Henry Gingrich swims the 100-yard butterfly during the PIAA Boys 3A Swimming and Diving Championships at Cumberland Valley High School on March 20, 2021. Now in his senior year with the Streaks, Gingrich is reflecting on his scholastic career, and the big roles his elder brothers Stephen and Charlie, both former Township swimers, played in his development.

On one hand, Manheim Township senior Henry Gingrich is amazed that he is at the end of his final holiday break as a high school athlete.

On the other hand, he knows what it’s like after seeing it a few years ago when brother Charlie was a senior with the Blue Streaks. Plus, he remembers when the eldest Gingrich sibling, Stephen, was heading into his final few months at Township.

“I remember like it was yesterday, being a freshman looking at Charlie and seeing it’s his last weeks of counting time,” Henry Gingrich said. “I’m ready to move on but I am taking it day by day and enjoying everything.”

Having such great examples in front of him has prepared Gingrich for the work necessary to compete at a high level – in the pool and the classroom. It’s not for the timid of spirit.

“Initially as a freshman it was a little rough. But seeing how they succeeded and records they broke it pays off,” he said. “You’ve got to wait for your time, but during that time, you’ve got to work for it.”

“(Stephen) was the first kid of the family to go through everything; school, swimming, the college process. He has helped me astronomically throughout my career. He’s also so supportive of me and wants to help me.

“Having Stephen and Charlie (come before) paved the path for me and showed me the work that has to be done. I don’t want to duplicate their steps — I want to make my own — but having them around when I was younger meant everything.”

Yet, the brothers don’t compare their stats, despite all three training at Five Star Swim Club, along with starring for the Streaks.

“We talk about swimming, but never talk about our times in high school or college. It’s more about the experience with our teams,” Henry Gingrich said. “There’s always that deep-down brother competition. I want to beat him; he wants to beat me. But we are able to have conversations about our different lives as swimmers.”

Of course, conversation when the Gingrich brothers are together may be more about basketball, with Charlie swimming at Duke and Henry committed to swim at Villanova. Stephen can jump in the chat as well, having graduated from the University of Tennessee last May.

According to Manheim Township swim coach Dan Graybill, the Gingrich siblings share the passion to succeed, as well as the willingness to work for it. Although they trained at Five Star, Graybill knew the brothers were not cutting corners.

“They all swam at Five Star, so I can’t take credit for anything,” the coach said. “But the loyalty they showed to their school, and the leadership they showed is special — all three of them.”

Graybill said that the brothers were always willing to gather the team for meetings and pep talks. They set examples for all. In 36 years of coaching the Blue Streaks, he has seen many outstanding swimmers and families. This group, he said, is near the top of the list.

While the holidays bring families such as the Gingrich group together, it is also a time of repetition building endurance in the pool. This is done with laps, a lot of laps that Graybill jokes about, “staring at the boring lane line at the bottom of the pool.”

Township holds nine practices from Dec. 20 through Jan. 2 and Graybill said he expects his athletes to attend at least six of those, although he understands traveling for family obligations.

“Of course, you have kids that are going away and you can’t hold that against them,” he said. “This group that was here the whole time has been working very, very hard. I am really pleased with their work ethic.”

With more than 30 swimmers attending each practice, Graybill said many are making the most of their time in the pool, perhaps because of time lost a year ago. It’s a commitment that kids can expect to pay off in the future, whether this season or down the road.

“It’s almost like the pandemic is behind us and they are putting their nose to the grindstone,” said Graybill. “You never know if that ninth grader that is here and has the will to work hard will develop into that special swimmer by their senior year.”

“There are times you are like, ‘Man, this is rough.’ You’ve got to make certain sacrifices to do this,” Henry Gingrich added. “But when you step back and know why you are doing this. You have those big meets at the end of the year where you swim your best.”

Section meets start

After a couple weeks of crossover competition, the Section One and Section Two schedules open Tuesday with big meets ahead, especially the week of Jan. 10, highlighted by Hempfield at Township.

• Correspondent Steve Navaroli covers L-L swimming for LNP. Email him via sports@lnpnews.com, and follow him on Twitter at @SteveNavaroli.

What to Read Next