Sewickley SeaDragons finding success in early meets
After only one meet, eight members of the Sewickley Valley YMCA SeaDragons youth swim team had accomplished something swimmers don't normally do until late in the season.
They improved their times, some by several seconds, at the New Castle Community YMCA Fall Classic Invitational this month at Slippery Rock University.
“It was a fantastic meet,” coach Sue Morgan said. “The swimmers have been working hard on correcting things like turns and breathing patterns.
“Their focus and hard work are already paying off.”
Morgan said it is common for young swimmers to have significant drops in times, but not all in the same meet so early in the season.
Anita Murphy, head coach of the New Castle Community YMCA Silver Sharks, agreed it was a huge accomplishment.
“This was the first meet of the season for many swimmers,” Murphy said. “The excitement of that, combined with the coaching of Sue Morgan and the desire of the kids from Sewickley, led to a very successful meet for them.”
Sewickley Valley finished 12th among 15 teams in combined boys and girls scoring.
Quinn Flowers, 12, was surprised when he improved his time in the 50-yard butterfly by six seconds. He had a mark of 33.40 seconds in finishing fourth in the boys 11-12 age group.
“I thought I would improve by a second,” he said.
“Quinn is shocked he did so well,” Morgan said.
After posting a time of 24.55 in the 25 breaststroke, Nicole Susie, 8, was treated to a brownie her mother bought at the concession stand.
“That was the best brownie I ever had,” said Susie, who placed sixth in the girls 7-8 division, one place behind teammate Emma Smith (24.04). “It tasted so good after I swam so fast.
“I really earned it.”
Besides the 25 breaststroke, Susie and Smith bettered their marks in the 25 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 25 butterfly and 25 backstroke.
“Swimming's good for me,” said Susie, in her third year as a competitor. “I have a lot of energy.
“It's really fun when you improve.”
Matt Kubinski (boys 9-10) and Anela Brown (girls 11-12) had career-best times in four events each.
Lucie Kubinski, Matt's sister, was one of Sewickley Valley's top-place finishers. She was second in the girls 11-12 100 individual medley in a personal best 41.55 seconds.
Kevin Bergdoll placed second in the boys 11-12 100 breaststroke, also in career-best time (1:28.97).
Competing in the girls 11-12 age group, Maddie Cahall swam her best ever (49.66) in the 50 breaststroke.
Morgan expects further improvement as the season progresses. The SeaDragons plan to compete in three or four more invitationals, as well as six dual meets.
“As we approach the district meet in February, times are really going to become good,” Morgan said.
Some Sewickley Valley swimmers already have qualified for the YMCA West District championship, according to Morgan.
The group includes several qualifiers from Saturday's meet against Baierl YMCA — Kevin Bergdol (100 free), Sophia Besterman (200 free), Amelia Besterman (500 free), Casey Emery (50 free), Martha Pangburn (50 free), Devon Jones (50 free), Hannah Ashburn (50 free, 100 breast), Liam McShane (100 breast, 200 IM), Will Andrews (200 IM), Maddie Andrews (200 IM), Elena Ashburn (100 IM, 100 fly), 13-14 boys medley, 11-12 boys medley, 10U girls 200 free relay, 11-12 boys 200 free relay, 13-14 girls 200 free relay and 13-14 boys 200 free relay.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.