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District Colleges

Penn Hills diver, swimmer excels at Chatham

| Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, 10:47 p.m.
Chatham University’s Alexis Rectenwald
Chatham University
Chatham University’s Alexis Rectenwald
Chatham University’s Alexis Rectenwald
Chatham University’s Alexis Rectenwald
Chatham University’s Alexis Rectenwald
Chatham University
Chatham University’s Alexis Rectenwald

Chatham University's Alexis Rectenwald always looks forward to the Wooster Invitational swim meet.

The swimming events are well run, and the diving competition is held at another location, making it more “peaceful” she said. There's also the part where she comes home a champion year after year.

Rectenwald, a 2012 Penn Hills graduate, claimed her second consecutive 1-meter diving title at the Wooster Invitational. Her score of 407.3 points broke her own school record and qualified her for the NCAA Division III regional championships.

It was the third time this season that Rectenwald set a new mark for the 1-meter dive.

“I like breaking my own personal records because it shows I'm getting better,” Rectenwald said.

She also claimed the title in the 3-meter dive at the Wooster Invitational.

For her efforts, the junior was dubbed the President Athletic Conference's women's swimmer/diver of the week on Dec. 8.

The award came almost exactly a year from her last swimmer/diver of the week award, which she earned for another stellar Wooster Invitational performance in 2013. She won the honor on Dec. 9 that year after winning the 1-meter dive and taking second in the 3-meter dive.

“The Wooster Invitational is probably my favorite meet of the year,” said Rectenwald, who was an All-PAC diver last season. “Last year I won the 1-meter, so I kind of knew the divers that were going to be there. I expected to have the same kind of competition.”

As the only person on the Cougars squad who competes as both a diver and a swimmer, Rectenwald has been incredibly busy this season. In addition to both of her dives, she swims the 50- and 100-meter freestyles, as well as the 100-meter butterfly.

“It's very time-consuming,” she said.

She said they have practice six days per week, and she's at the pool for four hours per day.

She also balances her studies as an accounting major. As hectic as it can get, Rectenwald likes her regimen.

“I find it easier to balance everything because I have such a strict schedule that I need to stick to,” she said.

She hopes to see the fruits of her labor in the form of an invitation to the national tournament for diving. Last season she came close, qualifying for alternate status, but ultimately did not make the final competition. Rectenwald also hopes to lower her swimming times.

While both of her disciplines take place in a pool, that doesn't mean they at all similar. A good diver is not automatically a great swimmer and vice versa.

“I would say that diving is more mentally challenging,” Rectenwald said.

Rectenwald was strictly a diver as a freshman until a spot opened on a relay team. Coach Christina Sheets knew that Rectenwald had experience as a swimmer and plugged her in. Sheets was impressed by her performance.

“Whenever I finished she said we needed to talk about swimming,” Rectenwald said.

During her senior season at Penn Hills, Rectenwald emerged as an elite diver.

She placed fifth out of 30 competitors at the WPIAL championships in the 1-meter dive.

Her younger brother, Andrew, is a junior swimmer for the Indians.

Ed Phillipps is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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