Freshman Zimcosky earns silver in 200 free, goes for gold in 100 free Friday
Geibel freshman Emily Zimcosky was more than a little jittery when she stepped onto the block for the final heat of 200-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AA swimming finals.
Not only was she one of only two freshmen in the race, she came into the meet as the top seed with the fastest qualifying time during the regular season.
“I get nervous especially being around all the seniors and being the young one,” Zimcosky said. “But I've been in so many races in my life that I've been in front and I've come from behind and I'm used to both.”
This time she had to do both one race.
Zimcosky moved into the lead on the last lap but could not hold it as Elizabeth Forward senior Braelyn Tracy swam a blistering 28.44-second final 50 yards to win her second consecutive title in the event. Tracy finished with a personal-best time of 1:51.94, while Zimcosky came in second at 1:52.69 to edge Kara Kaulius of West Allegheny for third place by 0.03 seconds.
“My goal was just to stick with Braelyn,” Zimcosky said. “I've swam with her all my life, and she's a phenomenal swimmer and I knew she would have a phenomenal swim.”
Even though she was the defending champion, Tracy actually came into the race seeded fourth with a qualifying time of 1:58.27 — well below the 1:53.30 in the 2012 finals. She was in fourth place after the first 100 yards behind Kaulius, Zimcosky and Morgan Fink of South Fayette before covering the final 100 in 57.38 seconds to lock it up.
“I did my (100) turn and I was underwater and I knew that I was a little behind everybody else, so I thought, ‘Oh my God, I've got to pick it up.' So on the last 50, I think I only took like two breaths,” Tracy said. “As soon as I hit the wall, I saw that no one had hit the wall yet and I just screamed. I couldn't hold it in.”
Zimcosky will have another opportunity to capture her first WPIAL championship on Friday when she competes in her favorite event, the 100 freestyle. Like the 200 freestyle, she will enter the race as the top seed and as one of only two freshmen in the race.
“I think I'll be fine because I know now that all my hard work has paid off,” Zimcosky said. “I am so ready.”
With the win Zimcosky also locked up a slot in the PIAA Class AA meet, which will be held March 13-14 at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium. She will be joined by her brother John Paul, who finished fourth in the 50 freestyle with a time of 22.18.
The top five boys and top four girls finishers in Class AA and the top three in Class AAA automatically qualify for the state meet. The Class AAA portion of the state finals will be March 15-16 also at Bucknell.
In Class AAA, Connellsville did not have any finishers reach the podium. Connellsville's best finish came compliments of Rachel Barczyk, Leah Lilley, Sierra Emert and Alyson Urie, who finished 22nd in the 200 freestyle relay (1:47.02).