Westmoreland County swimmers starring at Westminster
College Football Videos
On a recent trip to Florida, the Westminster College swimming and diving teams had a brush with Olympic royalty.
While training for a meet at Rollins College in Orlando, Fla., in December, the Titans shared the water with Michael Phelps, a 22-time gold medalist, and other Olympians who were training for a meet in Texas. The Westminster swimmers could barely believe it.
“When he walked in, he was wearing normal clothes and looked so small,” freshman Samantha Tower said. “We (said), ‘Oh, there's no way that's Michael Phelps.' Then he got in (the water), and we were like, ‘Holy crap, that's him.' It was so exciting to get to swim in the same pool as him.”
Tower asked to take a picture with Phelps before remembering her coach's instructions not to make a big deal about his presence.
Outside of unexpected meetings with famous Olympians, the Westminster swimming teams haven't exactly been star-struck by anybody who happens to share the same pool with them. Entering the week, the Westminster women's team held an 9-3 record, including 4-1 in Presidents' Athletic Conference competition, while the men's team was 9-2 and 5-0.
“I think this is probably one of the most successful in Westminster's history, and definitely the best season we've had since I got here,” junior Sarah Waszyn said. “For the most part this season, we haven't struggled to keep up a winning season. There's been some tough meets, but they weren't as tough as they have been in the past.”
The 2012-13 season saw the men capture their first PAC championship since 2007, while the women finished second.
“I know we had a couple conference championships last year, individually and as a whole team,” sophomore Matt Baurle said. “We don't have the same numbers as last year, but we're still gunning for that championship.”
The Titans feature several swimmers from around the WPIAL, including a few from Westmoreland County. On the women's team, sophomore Darian Baker and Waszyn swam at Norwin and Tower went to Franklin Regional. On the men's side, sophomore Matt Baurle graduated from Penn-Trafford and junior Jimmy DeBone went to Hempfield.
Those swimmers are contributing greatly to the team's success. Baurle won conference championships in the 100- and 200-yard breastroke last season, earning All-American honors in the 100, and holds Westminster records in both events. DeBone was named to the all-conference second team last season, while Baurle earned first-team status.
Baurle set two pool records in a recent meet at St. Vincent and was named PAC Men's Swimmer/Diver of the Week.
“After last year, (when) I finished the season, I was like, ‘Oh, man, it's over,'” Baurle said. “I wanted to keep going and see how far I could actually take it. This year, I'm definitely gunning for a lot more.”
Tower stepped in as a freshman this season and is swimming breaststroke and relays for the Titans.
“I like that I have such an important role on the team,” she said. “It's a lot of pressure for a freshman, but I think I've done a pretty good job handling it.”
Waszyn, a specialist in backstroke, also swims medley relays.
Baurle and Waszyn said the men's and women's teams feed off each other's success. With the PAC Championships coming up next weekend in Grove City, the teams are confident they can win the top spot.
“I feel a lot more confident than I did at the beginning of the season,” Baurle said. “On the guys side, there were significantly less guys. But the way we've shown ourselves in the conference, I think we'll do really good at the end.”
“It's always been our goal to win the championship, but this year I think we have the best chance that we've had in a while,” Waszyn said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mercyhurst wins opener at NCAA D-II baseball championships
- Cal U softball rallies to remain alive in NCAA D-II tournament
- Tampa pitcher silences Mercyhurst in NCAA Division II College World Series
- Mercyhurst baseball eliminated from NCAA Tournament
- Ex-Blackhawk star pitcher McKay thriving on mound at Louisville