TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Yough swimmers hitting pool with some adversity

Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Yough's Jessica Cochran swims the 100-yard butterfly event during the Westmoreland County Coaches Association swimming championship on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Derry Area High School.

TribLIVE Sports Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Top high school sports

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, 10:39 p.m.
 

Zachary Cochran has gotten used to being the odd man out.

One of just five members of the Yough High School swim team, Cochran, a freshman, operates as an independent swimmer in the WPIAL because his school doesn't have its own pool or coach.

In order to compete in dual meets, Cochran travels with the Mt. Pleasant swim team, while teammates Jessica Cochran and Olivia Cook travel with Norwin, and Madison Nestor and Codie Buglar travel with Greensburg Salem.

“Even though he does swim at Mt. Pleasant, he's still the odd man out,” said Kathy Cochran, Zachary's mother.

Because of their independent status, members of the Yough swim team don't receive individual accolades for their accomplishments at dual meets.

“As a 14-year-old kid, it does affect (Zachary),” Kathy Cochran said. “We just tell him that the kid that he beat is still going to remember that he got beat by a 14-year-old who doesn't have a pool. We're trying to encourage him. You can't give up the fight.”

Because team wins aren't a factor in this format, the kids use dual meets to earn qualifying times for the WPIAL championships at season's end.

But even the opportunities to qualify for the WPIAL championship are limited as independent swimmers. Only one Yough swimmer can qualify for a given event, which has led to frustration for the families involved.

“If you have two guys qualify, say, for the 50-yard freestyle, only the one with the best time gets to go,” Kathy Cochran said. “I mean, we only have five kids and no pool, and you're only going to let one kid go?”

With no formal coach at the school, the parents take on the title of coach so their kids are allowed to compete. Often, that means leaving work early to be at meets with her son, Kathy Cochran said.

This has been the state of affairs for the swim team each of the past five years at Yough, athletic director Tom Evans said. He has helped the kids compete and earn qualifying times in any way that he can, albeit with limited help at times.

“They're great kids with great parents,” Evans said. “Every time I call them down here, I tell them, ‘Mr. Evans knows nothing about swimming, so help me out here.' ”

Despite all of the obstacles, the swimmers have made the most of the season.

While it's rare that Yough swimmers see each other at a meet, they had the opportunity to compete together at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships Feb. 1. They finished ninth out of 17 teams.

Competing as a team at the WCCA meet was a welcome opportunity. Typically, independent swimmers are allowed to compete only when there is an open lane in an event. The girls often are forced to swim during a boys event to find an open lane.

“That was the nice part for county,” said Cheryl Nestor, Madison's mother. “They were actually seeded with their times in the correct event and same gender.”

Each of the girls has earned at least one WPIAL qualifying time, and the boys have until Thursday to make one last push at doing the same.

“It's a huge commitment,” said Jane Cochran, Jessica's mother. “Considering they all had to do this on their own, and we had all three girls make WPIALs, that's a big deal.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Court sides with Beaver County widow whose house was auctioned over $6.30 late fee
  2. Plum High School teacher held for court on charges of intimidation
  3. Philadelphia U.S. Rep. Fattah indicted in racketeering case
  4. Westmoreland park police probe report of man who grabbed woman from Twin Lakes trail
  5. USW workers to march on ATI headquarters
  6. Rossi: ‘Hockey guy’ Sutter will be missed
  7. PTOs, officials welcome waiver of fees for volunteers
  8. Thief’s attorney blames Rivers Casino; judge isn’t swayed
  9. Driver accused of crashing head-on into Ligonier officer’s SUV waives right to preliminary hearing
  10. School credit ratings a problem for several in Western Pennsylvania
  11. Baldwin Borough pool closes for repairs, residents may use Brentwood pool