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Carlynton swimming finds success

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Carlynton swim team is playing a numbers game this season.

The girls are 7-3, and the team has peaked at 10 swimmers — a high for Caitlyn McManus since she started coaching the Cougars five years ago.

The boys roster has hit a new low as only three swimmers are competing this season. But they are providing quality over quantity as two of the three have qualified for the WPIAL Class AA championships later this month.

“The girls team is the strongest it has been since I started here,” McManus said. “We have depth this year. We have always had trouble competing with basketball and wrestling for boys. I am not saying we are weak. Our boys swimmers are strong.”

Sophomore Nicole Stengel has continued the success after an impressive freshman year. She qualified for the WPIAL championships in a number of events, including the 100-yard freestyle. She will use the final weeks of the season to figure out which other events she will compete in.

Stengel likely will compete with relay teams in the 200 free and medley. The relay squads have been boosted by the presence of senior Elizabeth Quinn and freshman Natalie Quinn, whom McManus described as one of the team's best sprinters.

The newfound depth has helped the team be competitive in team meets. While the Cougars previously would try for their personal bests and not worry about wins and losses, that is far from the case this season.

“The team is much more serious,” McManus said. “There is a bigger competitive spirit. It is the best record we have had in five years.”

On the boys side, Jared Gardner has qualified for the WPIAL championships in the 50 free and 100 butterfly. Freshman Lucas Ulizzi has been a force and qualified in the 50 free and 100 butterfly.

While there are not enough boys to field a relay squad, it has helped take the pressure off as they have focused on their individual events.

“They enter each race with the focus being on bringing their times down,” McManus said. “Swimming is a sport with elements of individualism, which isn't a bad thing. Our boys have focused on qualifying for WPIALs.”

Carlynton hosts its final meet at 6 tonight, Thursday, when it faces Bishop Canevin.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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