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Local athletes compete at WPIAL swimming meet

| Thursday, March 13, 2003

What were you doing for Valentine's Day•

Feb. 13 and 14th, swimmers from Belle Vernon Area High School were representing their school at the prestigious WPIAL's. This is the one event that swimmers wait the whole season to try to qualify for.

This was a great opportunity for the nine swimmers, who happened to be all girls. It was a great accomplishment to have all three of the relays qualify for the event, as well as three individual qualifiers.

The day started out at Tree's Pool at the University of Pittsburgh with the 200 medley relay. The relay consisted of Julie Lacey leading off with backstroke, Brittany Molnar with breast stroke, Amanda Baker with butterfly, and Jamie Paterline finishing with freestyle.

The girls were seeded at a 2:08.81 and dropped their time to a 2:08.31.

As a returnee of her event, Sarah Naylor qualified again this year for the 500 freestyle event, 20 grueling laps of the pool.

"Even though it's the longest race, it's my favorite because it's easy to control your speed, which helps you pass other swimmers," Naylor said.

Her seed time included a 5:52.61 and successfully dropped it to a 5:51.09.

Natasha Puskavich qualified individually in the 200 free - 8 laps of the pool - and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays. Puskavich had a qualifying time of 2:10.53 but obtained a 2:12.53 at her event.

Amanda Baker, a four-time qualifier including relays, qualified in the 200 I.M., but chose not to swim it at the WPIAL meet. However, she swam the 200 and 500 freestyle events. Her seed time for the 200 free was a 2:10.63 and dropped it to a 2:08.11. Her 500 freestyle time was inconclusive.

As a freshmen, Baker was happy to qualify.

"It was very fun and a good experience for me," Baker said. "I look forward to it next year."

The following day included the two remaining relays. Among the qualifiers was the 200 freestyle relay team. Naylor led off, followed by Puskavich, Paterline, and Lacey. They were seeded at 1:51.79 and dropped their time to 1:49.56.

The 400 freestyle relay was led off by Paterline, and followed by Lacey, Puskavich, and anchored by Baker. They were seeded at a 4:03.07, but unfortunately increased their time to a 4:04.02.

Alternates included Gina Russo, Amanda Lehew and Angie Fao.

The team this year was very young, consisting of mostly sophomores. All of the girls left with a great experience and look forward to the years to come.

Brittany Molnar is a sophomore at Belle Vernon Area High School.

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