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Sewickley Valley youth team sending 12 swimmers to state meet

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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State qualifiers from the Sewickley YMCA swim team include, in front, from left, Abby Ciaramella, Elena Ashburn, Hannah Ashburn and Amelia Besterman. In back are Allan Smith, Devon Jones, Eric Bergdoll and Quinn Flowers. Liam White McShane, Nick Thurow-Schlund, Maddy Andrews and Alysse Ray also qualified.

Following a strong showing at the district meet, the Sewickley Valley youth swimming team will be well represented at the Pennsylvania YMCA state championships, to be held Friday to Sunday at Penn State.

Twelve swimmers, the most in several years, qualified by placing in the top six in individual and relay events at the YMCA Pennsylvania Western District championships this month at Youngstown State University in Ohio.

Liam White-McShane led individual qualifiers, taking first place in the boys 11-12 50-yard breaststroke with a time of 33.43 seconds. White-McShane also was second in the 100 breaststroke (1:15.03).

In girls 13-14 competition, Amelia Besterman placed in three events, including the 400 individual medley, where she was second with a time of 4:57.02.

Besterman finished fourth in the 200 butterfly (2:24.48) and fifth in the 200 freestyle (2:02.19). Maddy Andrews placed sixth in the girls 13-14 200 individual medley (2:30.03).

In the girls 10-and-under age group, Elena Ashburn took fifth place in the 100 butterfly (1:22.86) and seventh in the 50 butterfly (35.94).

Alyse Ray finished seventh in the girls 10-and-under 100 breaststroke (1:29.47). Ray also was on the 200 medley relay team that placed second (2:26.84) and the 200 freestyle relay team that took fifth (2:11.24).

Hannah Ashburn, Abby Ciaramella and Elena Ashburn also swam in both relays.

In his first year as a swimmer after playing water polo, Devon Jones claimed fifth place in the boys 11-12 50 freestyle (27.39).

Jones also anchored the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams that finished fourth and sixth with marks of 2:08.13 and 1:59.01, respectively.

Kevin Bergdoll (seventh in the 100 freestyle, fourth in the 100 breaststroke) and Quinn Flowers (sixth in the 50 fly) also placed in individual events in the boys 11-12 age group.

Flowers joined Jones in both relays, with White-McShane, Bergdoll, Nicholas Thurkow-Schlund and Allan Smith filling out the teams.

In her third year at Sewickley Valley, Sue Morgan said it will be the largest number of swimmers she will coach at the state meet.

“I'm happy for the kids,” Morgan said. “The more swimmers, the more it feels like a team.”

Besterman, 13, looks forward to swimming as well as eating ice cream with her teammates at the Penn State Creamery.

“It's going to be a lot of fun,” agreed Bergdoll, noting that his main focus will be swimming faster.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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