Elizabeth Forward swimmer takes 5th at PIAA meet

| Thursday, March 14, 2013, 10:36 p.m.

LEWISBURG — Elizabeth Forward's Braelyn Tracy needed to lean on the people around her after she finished what was, in her mind, a disappointing and emotionally draining PIAA Class AA championship meet at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.

“I think it's just an emotional day with my last high school race, and I was frustrated that I had added time,” Tracy said. “I did just swim a week-and-a-half ago, and I did have a phenomenal WPIAL (meet) and had my two best times and I got two gold medals, so there's really nothing I should be upset about right now.”

Tracy, who won WPIAL titles in both the 200 and 500 freestyle, finished fifth in the PIAA 500 freestyle with a time of 5:01.13. She captured the WPIAL championship in the event March 1 with a 4:59.53 — the only swimmer to break five minutes.

Her small time balloon in the 500 freestyle might have gone by the wayside had it not been for an equally frustrating end to the 200 freestyle on Wednesday, when Tracy finished in 1:52.84, above the personal-best 1:51.94 she posted at the WPIAL meet.

After a while, though, she started to put things into perspective.

“So I didn't get one best time. There's so many kids that got sent home because they didn't make finals, and I was on the podium my junior and senior year and I got two gold medals at WPIALs my senior year,” Tracy said. “Everybody is screaming and there's adrenaline and it's great for all the people that are here to experience that.”

Tracy is still deciding between attending California (Pa.) University and Toledo to continue her swimming career next year.

“I'm going to take to college what I saw at states,” Tracy said. “There are a lot of kids that are here for one event and don't even make finals, and I just really experienced a lot.”

West Mifflin junior Brad Kolesar finished ninth in the preliminaries of the 100 backstroke Thursday and had to settle for swimming in a consolation heat.

Despite the fact he won to officially finish ninth (54.07), it was little solace even though he did move up a spot in the standings, entering as the 10th seed.

“It's a rough meet,” Kolesar said. “I know I was seeded 10th going in, and I didn't look at my times in the prelims, but this is pretty hard. I didn't get my best times. It was real frustrating and, after the meet, I kind of beat myself up a little bit.”

Kolesar swam the 100 backstroke in 54 seconds, which missed the final by 0.27 seconds. On Wednesday, Kolesar did garner a medal as he finished fifth in the 100 butterfly with a time of 51.32 seconds.

“Finishing top eight and winning a medal, it would have been nice going home with two medals this year,” Kolesar said. “I just had to win the consols. I wish I could have been a little faster, but I can't complain about it.”

Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kbarnes@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.

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