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Preseason workouts leading to faster times for Connellsville swimmers

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 1:36 a.m.
Seniors Leah Lilley (front) and Sierra Emert are hoping to lead the Connellsville swim team to a successful season. Evan R. Sanders/Daily Courier

In her second year as coach of the Connellsville swim team, Marie Nedley has made some adjustments to her team's training regimen. So far, the results have been positive as the Falcons gear up for the 2012-13 season.

“We started a little bit earlier, and I've noticed that they are swimming faster times,” said Nedley, noting that the team began conditioning earlier this year than it did last year and that many members of the team appear to be a bit further along in their development for the new season. “It's good because we can get into harder practices earlier.”

For the Connellsville girls team, several experienced swimmers will lead the way, and the team should get a big boost from several new athletes.

“I have a lot of girls,” said Nedley, who added that nearly all the juniors, sophomores and freshmen from last season have returned. “I think for everyone returning, the goal is to get better times. For the new girls, the goal is to help out, and I want to see what they can do.”

The Falcons will deal with several key losses, including graduate Kendra Wagner, who was a key component in the Connellsville 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that qualified for the WPIAL championship meet last season. Sierra Emert, Leah Lilley and Rachel Barczyk, who also were part of those relay teams, are back for their senior seasons.

Juniors Lauren Urie (freestyle, backstroke, individual medley) and Brooke Robbins (freestyle) could be key contributors, as will freshman Alyson Urie, who will be used in the 200 and 500 freestyle events. Also returning is senior Kait Nedrow, who qualified for the WPIAL diving championships last year.

“Everyone counts, and it's good to see almost everyone back from last year,” Nedley said.

With a seemingly strong group in place, the Falcons are hoping to be competitive in Section 1-AAA, which includes Franklin Regional, Hempfield, Kiski, Latrobe, Norwin and Penn-Trafford.

“We want to win more of our section meets,” Emert said. “People seem more interested this year, and I think we will accomplish our goal.”

While the Connellsville girls team has approximately 40 swimmers, the boys team is experiencing a small surge in numbers.

“I'm really excited about the boys team,” Nedley said. “Right now, we have about 13 boys, and that will come in handy because we'll have more than one relay team. It will help us get the points we need.”

Those points could be valuable for a team coming off a winless season.

“I think the returning boys' goal is to win a meet, and I want to see some good times,” Nedley said.

Senior freestylers Shane Beneke and Jim Manges are experienced starters and they will be joined by freshmen Collin Mastowski (freestyle and butterfly) and Travis Patterson (freestyle). The four could combine to earn a WPIAL qualifying time in one of the freestyle relays, the coach said.

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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