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P-R grad Schonbachler hopes to represent Pitt at ACC swimming and diving championships

| Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, 3:30 p.m.
Pitt freshman Ryan Schonbachler, a Pine-Richland graduate, has been a key contributor during the 2017-18 season.
Pitt athletics
Pitt freshman Ryan Schonbachler, a Pine-Richland graduate, has been a key contributor during the 2017-18 season.

The Pitt swimming and diving team wrapped up its regular season and will shift its focus to the ACC championships scheduled for later this month.

Freshman Ryan Schonbachler is hoping to be one of 20 athletes who will be selected to represent the program at the conference championships. Considering his progress and success this season, the former Pine-Richland standout and 2017 WPIAL 500 freestyle champ might get that chance.

Schonbachler has competed in the 1,000 free and the 500 free in nearly every dual meet. He set personal bests for the 1,650 free (15 minutes, 28.38 seconds) and 1,000 free (9:24.91) at the Ohio State Invite in November and has maintained close times in those events all season.

“I would say my performance at the Ohio State Invite was probably my highlight so far,” Schonbachler said. “That was where I dropped a lot of time on the mile and a few other events.

“I dropped a significant amount of time on the (1,650 free), almost 30 seconds, and then I was able to go back up and swim around that same exact time two weeks later. It was a relief to know I could hold that time.”

Pitt coach John Hargis has taken notice. While Hargis said he believes Schonbachler's improvement in the 500 free will come as the freshman gets older and stronger, he said the his progression in the distance events has been exciting to chart.

“We knew Ryan could add something in that area where we needed to grow that distance group, he could come in and make an immediate impact in that area,” Hargis said. “He's gone in a direction that we knew he could get to, but to be honest, he's gotten there a lot more quickly then we thought he would this early.

“Right now, in terms of the mile, he has a good opportunity to come in and be top 16 in his first year in ACCs, and that's what we expect him to do. This time last year, I don't know that we would have said that.”

The ACC swimming and diving championships are Feb. 21-24 in Greensboro, N.C.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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