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Swimming

Ligonier Valley swimmers improving with technique, times

| Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, 6:45 p.m.

At the beginning of season, the Ligonier Valley swim team appeared to be on life support.

But, it the cloudy overcast skies are starting to part as the outlook of the team now appears to going in a positive direction.

The records might not depict the same image, but coach Tracy Shearer has noticed positive vibes that surround her small 20-player swim team.

Through the first five meets, the girls team has started 2-3, while the boys team is still trying to find its first victory.

But with minimum resources, the Rams have maximized their efforts in the events they have participated, which is one of the positives Shearer has taken away from this season.

“They're exceeding my expectations since it's very difficult to come out with a victory in a meet with only 20 kids,” Shearer said. “In the Northern Cambria meet, I had kids in 11 of 16 events finish in first place, which is pretty remarkable. They are all dropping time in their events, which is also remarkable.”

Even with this success in the pool with the limited amount of swimmers, Shearer doesn't believe the boys team, which only consists of six swimmers, would be able to win a meet this season.

Even in the trying times, Shearer is trying to keep the focus on having fun and working to get better, with hopes to keep the program around.

“Ultimately, we want to survive,” Shearer said. “My expectations are to do what I could do to get as many swimmers to districts. Also, I want to the swimmers to have their best times in the pool, while making it fun for the swimmers.

“Swimming is a lifetime sport. It would be sad to see the program to go away. There are not many sports that have that.”

The word ‘fun' has been traveling around the school at Ligonier Valley from the mouths of the swimmers. Those words have gotten back to others at the school who were afraid to try out for the swim team at the beginning of season.

This message got back to Shearer, giving her hope that the numbers will continue to grow with an influx of current eighth-graders that will participate next season.

The teams consist of some swimmers who, before this season, hadn't swam “5,500 yards with their face in the water.” Those swimmers now are within striking distance of qualifying for districts.

“Really the success has come from the support from all the swimmers,” the coach said. “We have been working on swimming mechanics and technique work.

“They are having fun with whatever event they are in and they are motivated to do well in them.”

Some of the top returning Rams include junior Bethanie Meharey, who was the first diver in school history to win the District 6 championship last season, and senior Josh Meharey and junior Nicole Wissinger, who both participated in districts last year. Freshman Shelbi Shearer has been one of the impressive newcomers for the Rams.

“They are all hard workers and tough competitors,” Shearer said. “They do a lot in their local community and are just great all around kids.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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