PIAA Boys 3A Swimming Championships

Manheim Twp.'s Henry Gingrich, swims the 100 yard butterfly, during the PIAA Boys 3A Swimming and Diving Championships at Cumberland Valley High School Saturday March 20, 2021.

Although the Lancaster-Lebanon League was shut out of gold medals at the recent PIAA swimming championships, the 2020-21 campaign still has to go down as a highly successful season.

Despite all of the adversity faced because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the league completed a season, hosted its championship meet and sent athletes to compete at districts and states.

This was no easy task.

The student-athletes were constantly shifting schedules, one that included a three-week break because of a coronavirus shutdown. Teams lost their normal facilities right before practice was to start and had to scramble to find a pool.

Once the season started, meets were canceled, not always with a lot of notice, throwing a wrench into already challenged schedules.

Yet the worst part was the interruptions to training schedules and routines, both short- and long-term.

Swimmers tend to be creatures of habit, knowing what hours to train, what hours for school and homework, along with what hours to eat and sleep.

As part of their training, swimmers build up their yardage as the season goes on before tapering their workload prior to the postseason.

It wasn't just the swimmers. Coaches typically have a feel for what athletes respond to what training. They know when to pour on the work and lighten it up. They are also creatures of routine, especially during the long days.

But all of this went out the window the season.

Still, Logan Smith of Cedar Crest won a silver medal at states. Henry Gingrich of Manheim Township won a district championship. Smith, along with the Donegal trio of Ethan Shonk, Grant Leibfried and Jordynn Park won silver at districts. Township's Nico Billoni earned a silver on the District Three Class 3A diving board.

Smith even broke an L-L record in the 100-yard breaststroke at the league championships, where the swims were fast despite all the obstacles.

L-L League swimming chair Andy Amway took notice of what a great year it was. He penned the following:

I've been involved in high school sports for 61 year as either a coach, an official, a tournament chairman, or league chairman. This past winter has been one of the most demanding, challenging, seasons I have ever experienced.

When involved with the winter sports season, one expects a 12-inch snowfall at least once that will cause some cancellations but nothing like we experienced this year. The virus caused the league to cancel every meet in the month of December.

The 13 teams comprising the two sections of the L-L Swim League did not swim a meet until the second week in January.

The first meet I happened to officiate in January, I received a phone call this next morning informing me that one of the schools that had swum the previous night had a swimmer test positive the next day and it would be at least 10 days before the team would swim its next meet.

When that team got back in the water for its second meet of the year the league had slightly one week left in its regular scheduled season. This is how the season went but I am pleased to say that the vast majority of teams were able to complete their season although we had to swim our championship meet a week after it was originally scheduled.

We made it and so did the basketball and wrestling teams. A great deal of the credit for getting the teams and their coaches through "The Winter of 2020-21" should go to the Athletic Directors and their secretaries.

The increase in workload for these Guardians of High School and Middle School athletics and their secretaries is difficult to comprehend. Finding officials, rescheduling transportation, finding meet personnel, and most important checking on the health of your teams' athletes was a whole new ballgame.

You handled things quite well, as we knew you would. Now you have to start all over. Let's hope spring goes smoother than the "Winter of 2021."

Yes, the L-L swimmers accomplished much this season. But it wasn't just winning times and breaking records. They got in the water and that was fantastic.

"Every kid here today deserves kudos," Warwick coach Mark Daum said at districts. "People don't realize what this has done to kids socially. (Swimming) was the saving grace in so many ways. They bonded beautifully. I don't care if they finished first or 20th today."


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

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