Derry swimmers, divers prepare for WPIALs
Planning to taper soon for the WPIAL championships, members of the Derry boys and girls swimming teams will be getting some well-deserved rest, coach Jeff Kelly said.
“The kids are tired and sore from swimming every day,” Kelly said.
The teams overcame exhaustion to sweep Class AA titles at the Westmoreland County Coaches Association championships Feb. 1 at Derry. It was the first such sweep in school history, said Kelly, in his 21st season as coach.
Each team finished sixth overall among Class AA and AAA schools.
“We peaked at the right time and had a lot of time drops,” said Kelly, who expects swimmers to go much faster at the WPIAL championships Feb. 27-28 at Pitt's Trees Pool.
Senior Dustin McCallen set a school record of 22.70 seconds in finishing fourth in the boys 50-yard freestyle.
McCallen said he hovered near the record for a year and a half.
“I knew it was just a matter of time,” said McCallen, who plans to zero in on the 100 freestyle mark next.
McCallen anchored the 400 freestyle relay that finished fifth in three minutes, 33.27 seconds. Senior Andrew Downey and sophomores Evan Gruss and Austin Buterbaugh also competed.
McCallen, freshman Zach Baum, Downey and Gruss swam in the 200 freestyle relay that placed fourth (1:34.99).
Allison Brownlee, a freshman on the girls team, won medals in swimming and diving.
Brownlee, who took first place in 1-meter diving, was third in the 200 freestyle (1:59.18).
She also anchored the 200 freestyle and 200 medley relays that finished third and fifth, respectively.
Freshman Danielle Jellison and juniors Taylor Byers and Chelsea Dominick were on the relay teams, as well.
Brownlee, Jellison, Dominick and Byers broke a 17-year-old school record in winning the 400 freestyle relay in a dual meet against Burrell last week (3:48.49).
Sophomore Morgan Elrick (second in 1-meter diving) and Byers (sixth in the 200 individual medley) also captured medals individually at the county meet.
Derry diving coach Trish Ney Brownlee expects strong finishes from her daughter and Elrick at the WPIAL championship.
Allison Brownlee said she is nervous heading into the competition.
“I keep thinking there were a lot of divers at the county meet, there will be just more at WPIALs,” said Brownlee, 15.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.