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Geibel's Zimcosky siblings, Mt. Pleasant's Nelson ready for state swimming championships

| Sunday, March 9, 2014, 11:21 p.m.

Geibel sophomore Emily Zimcosky has an interesting way of looking at the PIAA Class AA Swimming Championships.

“It's kind of like the ‘Hunger Games,' ” she said. “We'll go in and see who can last.”

In the fictitious “Hunger Games,” a group of teenagers fight for their survival in front of a national television audience. The stakes aren't anywhere near that high at the state championships, but there is a lot on the line for the swimmers.

Zimcosky is coming off WPIAL record-setting performances in the 50-yard freestyle (23.13) and the 100 freestyle (50.75). She is the top seed in each event in the PIAA Class AA Swimming Championships, which are Friday and Saturday at Bucknell.

Being the top seed means expectations will be for her to reach the top of the medal podium. However, Zimcosky doesn't sit around worrying about expectations.

“There is definitely pressure, but seeds are nothing but lane assignments,” she said. “Everyone will be confident.”

Zimcosky said she will go into the state tournament relaxed and confident, especially after shining in each of her events at WPIALs.

“My WPIAL times helped me a lot because I am hard on myself,” Zimcosky said. “So when I post a good time, it's like taking a burden off of my shoulders. I'm confident, and my WPIAL races definitely help.”

Zimcosky is not the only local swimmer who will be gunning for gold. Her brother, senior John Paul Zimcosky, and Mt. Pleasant junior Fallon Nelson also will look to make their way on to the medal stand.

John Paul Zimcosky is the WPIAL champion in the 50 freestyle (21.6) and the runner-up in the 100 freestyle (47.76). He is seeded fourth in each event at states. Like his sister, he hopes to build off his strong showing at WPIALs.

“I was just really happy because I was hoping to have the race of my life, and I did that, especially in the 50,” he said. “It just helps you because you realize all of your hard training is paying off. When you have a great finish, great turns and great technique, it helps motivate us to continue.”

The siblings, who are coached by Laurel Highlands, have spent countless hours in the pool. They realize that the other swimmers at the state meet have done the same.

“Going to the PIAAs and being in the top eight is something I'm proud of because I know how much we all deserve a title,” John Paul Zimcosky said. “It makes you proud to realize how much each of us has dedicated and sacrificed.

“My goal is to finish on top of the podium. I'm just hoping I have another race of my life and see where that takes me.”

Nelson also hopes to have her best races at the state championships. She finished third at WPIALs in both the 200 freestyle (1:57.47) and 500 freestyle (5:13.14). She is seeded seventh in the 500 and 10th in the 200.

Nelson noted that she would like to set the school record in the 200 and improve upon her own record in the 500.

“If I can't do that, I'd be happy to drop time or stay the same,” Nelson said.

Of course, she acknowledged that being in the top eight and possibly bringing home a pair of medals is in the back of her mind.

“I'd like to go to the finals and medal,” Nelson said. “A medal would be very nice to take home.”

Either way, Nelson will enjoy the experience.

“I just go there to swim,” Nelson said. “It's just going to be a lot of fun.”

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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