While this weekend’s PIAA swimming championships won’t be the same as in a typical year, expect plenty of fast swims when the state’s best converge at Cumberland Valley High School.
Normally stretched over four days at Bucknell University, the event was moved and the field was reduced by half because of COVID protocols.
Also, instead of the morning preliminaries followed by consolations and championship heats in the evening, this year will be all timed finals, with the Class 2A competition taking place today and Class 3A on Saturday.
Unlike the district championships, all eight lanes will be used for the two heats of individual races. Relays will be four heats, using every other lane.
Donegal coach Allison Kreider said having every lane occupied will make the racing better. “At districts, that really played with my kids,” she said. “Every other lane it was very flat. My kids needed someone right next to them. Using all eight lanes, I am very excited about that.”
One such athlete is Jordynn Park, the Indians senior who is seeded fifth in the 100-yard butterfly and sixth in the 100 breaststroke.
Kreider said that Park wasn’t happy with her District Three performance at Central York, but looks forward to swimming at Cumberland Valley, where she won the district breaststroke title in 2020.
In fact, Park’s time at districts last year made her the No. 1 seed at states, and she was awarded the state championship when the PIAA 2A competition was canceled.
“Jordynn does very well at Cumberland Valley. I told her let’s act like this is our district meet,” Kreider said. “We have the mindset that we are going to have fun.”
Donegal also has Claire O’Neill, who is seeded 11th in the 200 individual medley. “I am excited to see what Claire brings to Friday. She wants to go out with a bang and this is her time to shine,” Kreider said. “If she does what she’s capable of it will be exciting to see how far she moves up.”
Junior teammate Ethan Shonk will look to medal in the boys competition, where he is seeded eighth in both the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
“Sometimes swimming on the outside (lane) can be an advantage, sometimes it’s a disadvantage. He can really take advantage of it,” Kreider said. “Ethan has really grown as a swimmer, as an athlete and a person. Watching him grow as an adult is really something.”
Also competing in the 2A boys meet are Donegal’s Grant Leibfried, seeded 10th in the 100 butterfly, and Robert Gehman of Cocalico, who is seeded ninth in the 100 breaststroke.
Manheim Township has several competitors in the 3A championships Saturday, starting with Liz Perot, who is the 10th seed in the girls 500 free.
The Blue Streaks boys have a pair of relays competing, with the 200 medley, which is seventh and the 400 free that is 12th.
Connor Paladino is fifth in the 50 free and fresh off his district title, Henry Gingrich is sixth in the 100 butterfly.
Ephrata’s Thomas McGillan will swim the 50 and 100 free races, seeded sixth and seventh respectively.
Logan Smith of Cedar Crest, whose second-place swim in the 100 breaststroke at districts was faster than the previous district record, is the fourth seed on Saturday.
Only a sophomore, Solanco’s Addie Scott, will swim in the girls 3A meet, in the 200 free (12th) and 100 free (ninth).