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Carlynton swimming finishes season strong

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted photo | Signal Item
Carlynton sent five swimmers to the WPIAL Class AA swimming and diving championships, including Nicole Stengel, Jacqueline Roussos, Elizabeth Quinn, Kelsey Ponick, Madison Gallagher and Jared Gardner.

Carlynton swim coach Caitlin McManus said she couldn't be happier with the effort her athletes put in at the WPIAL Class AA swimming and diving championships.

“It could have not ended better,” McManus said. “We came into WPIALs with good seed times and came out with even better times.”

The Cougars sent six athletes to the event, and each found success.

Nicole Stengel had the top performance. The freshman finished the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1 minute, 1.59 seconds for a 13th-place finish. The time was not only a personal best, it set a school record (1:02.08).

“I have been coaching her since the seventh grade, and she is a very gifted and talented swimmer,” McManus said. “She works hard and is dedicated. She had a solid season. It was nice to see her drop the two seconds at WPIALs and come out with a lifetime best.”

While some swimmers may be nervous for their first appearance at the WPIAL championship event, Stengel said

“It was more exciting,” Stengel said. “I tried to go in with a positive attitude. I did better than I thought I would.

Stengel also was part of a relay team — along with senior Kelsey Ponick and juniors Elizabeth Quinn and Madison Gallagher — that had a strong showing. The group finished the 200-yard freestyle in 15th with a time of 1:48.92 and 18th in the 200-yard medley with a time of 2:03.96.

“We always give each other a lot of support,” Stengel said. “We grew close this season really formed a tight bond.”

McManus said the time in the medley was an all-time best, but the team's real accomplishment was in the freestyle as it was able to drop three seconds off its time despite no WPIAL championships experience from any of the members.

“They have been doing it all year,” McManus said. “They have been opting against the huge teams and worked harder every meet. They deserved to be there.”

The lone male swimmer to make the meet was Jared Gardner. The junior finished the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 59.59 for a 20th-place finish.

“He has worked hard all year,” McManus said. “We are hoping to get him into a top-eight seed next season and get him to states.”

Carlynton is looking to send even more swimmers to WPIALs next season. The Cougars were very young this season and graduate only two seniors. Since taking over four years ago, McManus had put a focus on the junior high program. With many of those athletes now starting to swim on the high school team, it is expected to pay dividends.

“We are getting stronger every year,” McManus said. “When I took over four years ago, some of the swimmers didn't stick around, so we have had small senior classes. We are starting to bring up more and more swimmers from the junior high team. The depth of the junior high team in unbelievable.

“We have been working really hard for four years. It is great to see things taking off.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or 412-388-5813.

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