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Penn-Trafford swimmers, divers prepare for WPIAL meet

| Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Penn-Trafford swimming coach Dave Babik believes his team is coming on strong as the end of the season approaches.

With the biggest competitions of the season coming up, that could mean big things for the Warriors.

Penn-Trafford's swimmers are in the midst of preparing for the WPIAL Class AAA swimming championships, which will be held Feb. 27 and 28 at the University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool. The diving championships are scheduled for this weekend.

“The WPIAL event is probably the biggest and most exciting meet that the kids will ever swim,” Babik said. “(It's) even more exciting than the state meet, just because there's so many athletes, there's so many spectators and they all know each other. It's really exciting. It's a very different experience, even for kids that have been in a lot of big meets. The WPIAL experience is like no other.”

A total of 12 Penn-Trafford swimmers and divers will compete individually at WPIALs after qualifying during the regular season. Mike Bertoni and Joey Ference will both compete at the diving championship this weekend.

Swimmers who will compete individually next week include Noah Babik, Kurt Baurle, Anthony Montalto, Patrick Reilly and Tony Sekowski on the boys side and Devon Davenport, Emily Graziano, Audra Ragan, Cassie Szmyd and Emma Winchell on the girls side.

Penn-Trafford also qualified teams to compete in all six relays: the boys and girls 200- and 400-yard freestyle and 200 medley relays.

“After how well we did at our county meet, we had a couple relays do very well. I think that we have at least one relay on each side that should do very well and contend for a high place.”

The swimmers began preparing for the competition this week through tapering, which entails a gradual decrease in the volume and intensity of the swimmers' training.

“I'm going to have a couple different tapers going on,” Babik said. “It's supposed to create a rested state so that it allows them to go faster. That's one of the things we'll be doing, and the other thing we'll be doing is refining some technique, just taking care of some fine-tuning.”

Penn-Trafford closed section competition on a high note, sweeping rival Norwin last week. Babik said he liked how the team handled the emotion of Senior Night and a rivalry competition against Norwin. He also said the team did well to shake off a layoff of a week and a half between meets.

“That meet really punctuated a good season,” he said. “I thought that the kids did really well throughout the season, and I was really pleased to see how we ended up.”

Babik said he expects all of the competitors to perform well at WPIALs, beginning with Bertoni and Ference this weekend.

“We usually taper very well, and the lifetime bests we achieve is usually a high percentage,” he said. “We're always expecting everyone to do really, really well, and we're always excited to see that happen.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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