Shaler qualifies large contingent for WPIAL swimming championships
Shaler sophomore swimmer Eddie Sheets was under the weather but decided he had to get into the pool. There was too much at stake to not compete.
During the last-chance meet for WPIAL qualifying Feb. 18 at North Allegheny, Sheets shook off the cold to compete.
He missed practice the night before.
“It was 50 yards in the relay, and I gave it my all,” said Sheets, who swam his leg of the 200 free relay in 23.8 seconds.
“I pretended I wasn't sick, and I just swam it as fast as I could.”
Sheets' effort in the 200 freestyle relay — along with teammates Joe Pasikowski, Kevin Chalmers and Stephen Adametz — helped the Titans reach the WPIAL Class AAA meet. Solid efforts throughout the roster have Shaler taking 12 of its 23 swimmers to the district championship meet Thursday and Friday at Trees Pool.
Titans senior Emily Schaefer, who joined the team this year after previously only swimming on a club team, qualified in all 11 events. She is the first female swimmer to accomplish the feat in Shaler history.
“We always expect really good swims,” Shaler coach Keith Simmons said. “I do believe it's possible we could have four records on the girls' side. One senior girl, Emily Schaefer, she's broken the 200 IM record by 3 seconds at the last meet of the year. I expect her to be faster.”
Jenna Stanton (50 free, 100 fly, 100 back) and Pasikowski (100 back, 200 IM) also qualified in multiple events for the Titans.
Shaler senior Evan Kelly competed in the diving championships Saturday. Kelly, who broke the Titans' school record earlier in the season, scored a 234.95 and placed 17th, one spot short of the finals.
“I think we have a great team overall, and all of us support each other,” Sheets said. “It's a great group of kids, and we couldn't be luckier to have the swim team we have.”
Simmons would like to see his group send a few kids on to state and be competitive in the team standings.
Shaler doesn't have enough numbers to compete for a team title.
What the Titans have is an opportunity for their top swimmers to drop time.
“We can't be in awe of anything,” Simmons said. “You are swimming at the University of Pittsburgh, and some of the kids have done it before. What helps is the atmosphere of the WPIAL championships. I think the kids get amped up for it. It's a David vs. Goliath thing. We have one of the smallest teams in the WPIAL, and I am taking 12 kids down with me plus a diver.”
Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.