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North Penn swimmers and divers propel to strong state finish after snowstorm delays competition

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LEWISBURG- It may have taken a little longer than usual this year, but North Penn swimmers and divers once again found themselves with a lot to be proud of in the month of March.

After the mid March snowstorm came through, the PA swimming and diving state championships were split into two weekends, leaving swimmers in anticipation for their team results after they competed March 17th-19th at Bucknell University. Still swimming their best, both boys and girls had a successful state championship with multiple records broken, and good standing for the divers to place. With both individual swimmers and relays taking trips to the medal stand, both the boys and girls ended the weekend in 4th place.

“Going into states I wasn’t sure what to expect from our kids. Because of the winter storm, everything got separated, and our team is one that works on [the] team [being] together. It’s not swimming and diving, it’s North Penn Aquatics. After the first couple of races from both the boys and girls side I was thinking ‘holy cow they’re ready’,” said Head Coach Jeff Faikish.

Starting with the boys team, three records were broken, two of which were held by Olympic qualifiers. First, the 200 Yard Medley Relay with sophomore Ryan Hartmann, freshman Sean Faikish, junior Noah Jamieson, and sophomore Ryley Fein, placed fourth with a time of 1:33.77. Junior Aidan Daly was then the first to have an individual race, placing 8th in the 200 Yard Freestyle-1:40.88. Making his second appearance in the water Faikish earns another medal, placing 2nd in the 200 Yard IM. Faikish broke the record set in 2000 swimming a 1:49.84, and qualified for Junior Nationals.

“Usually we have a prelim and from there you qualify for finals. At finals determines what place you get overall. That option was taken away this year because of rescheduling, when they swam in the morning that was a timed final. You could be in any heat and win it, this was my first year dealing with this as a coach. That is how our district meet works so the kids prepared for that for week, but we found out the week of states. District 1 swimmers as a whole certainly went out and made their mark at States,” said Coach Jeff Faikish.

Despite not being used to the timed-final, both individual swimmers and relays had outstanding performances in the water. Jamieson made his mark in the water individually in the 100 Yard Butterfly, placing 3rd with a time of 49.85 to break the record from 1992 and qualified for Junior Nationals.

I thought we did very well. All our training paid off and I showed with our swims in the pool. We are all coming back next year eager to do better. None of us are graduating and we have many more coming up next year so it’ll be fun”

— Head Coach Jeff Faikish

“I thought we did very well. All our training paid off and I showed with our swims in the pool. We are all coming back next year eager to do better. None of us are graduating and we have many more coming up next year so it’ll be fun,” said Faikish.

On day two was the race that Daly and Faikish made so exciting at districts. In the 500 yard relay that both Daly and Faikish broke records for this year, Daly came out on top placing 7th with a time of 4:31.23, finally having the record rest in his hands. Ending the meet, Daly, Jamieson, Faikish and Hartmann tied for 4th with Conestoga in the 400 Yard Freestyle Relay-3:07.76. Coach Faikish feels whether in relays or individual races, at the end of the day, the closeness of the team is the key to success.

“Kids get separated into their training groups, but ultimately we all train as one big team. The cool part is everybody supports each other. With this team, more than any other team I’ve coached in the past, the concept of family has come up. Not meaning the fact that we have siblings on the team, but the culture we have developed. When a boy gets up on the block, all the boys and girls stand up on the team because that’s their brother or sister swimming. We all want each individual kid to have as much success as possible because everyone’s individual success contributes to the team’s success. They are so supportive in outside of school activities and it’s great to see how close these kids are,” said Coach Jeff Faikish.

When the boys weren’t swimming, they were cheering on the girls who also had excellent performances both individually and in relays. Starting with the 200 Yard Medley, sophomore Katelyn Harkrader, senior Kailyn Evans, junior Megan Zartmann, and junior Rosalinda Rivera placed 4th swimming a 1:44.34. Evans and Zartmann then got back in the pool with Thamm to place 5th-2:01.53, 11th-2:04.80, and 8th-2:02.14  in the 200 Yard IM. Ending day one, Thamm swam again individually in the 100 Butterfly placing 6th, swimming a 55.22 to break the record from 1990 held by olympic qualifier Danielle Strader.

“I didn’t reach my goals in some of my swims but I still had a pretty solid weekend. I took down North Penn’s 100 fly record by Danielle strader, one that I have been dreaming of breaking since I was a little kid. That obviously was a high in the weekend. My 400 free relay finished off the meet so well and swam a great time, that race was most likely my favorite just because it was the last time I’ll ever swim with Kailyn Evans and it just was a great end to the weekend,” said Thamm.

The excitement continued on day two with more individual events and the relay. Starting off the day, sophomore Heather Hartmann placed 15th in the 500 Freestyle, although she didn’t receive a medal, she still scored points for the team. Zartmann also didn’t receive a medal, but still scored points for the team placing 10th in the 100 Yard Backstroke-57.04. In the 100 Breaststroke, Evans medaled in another individual event placing 5th with a time of 1:03.48.

“Overall we did our best to succeed to our fullest potential. With having a timed final state meet, I feel like that took a toll on us. My performances weren’t my best. Not everyone can swim amazing every time they get the chance to race. Going into my first individual race, I felt pressured, I got in my head and didn’t race the way I intended to. My second individual I was more at a relaxed state in mind, but still didn’t swim my best time. We had a few great swims and with those swims, some girls bettering their times, but I feel like if we had a prelim and final meet, like in years past, we could’ve done better. Our relays really did well too. When we come together for them, we feed off each other’s drive. If the lead off is good, then we know the rest of the race will be amazing. I’m so proud of the girls no matter what happened this past weekend. I will truly miss swimming for North Penn next year” said Kailyn Evans.

The 400 Freestyle Relay was Evans last swim for North Penn. All the girls found this to be an exciting race and the results match the feelings. Thamm, junior Parker Shultz, Zartmann and Evans worked together to place 2nd with a time of 3:26.52.

“If you take a look at how most of the season worked out for boys and girls it started years ago being a part of the North Penn Aquatics age group club. The process of developing the culture of success started at the age group level. A lot of the other school don’t have the opportunity for their age group programs and high school program to interact. The kids coming in have a general understanding of what the expectations are. Right from the beginning they know that they are going to be pushed hard. Having to prepare them mental is not as difficult as a task, as it would be compared to the kids that come in and have no clue. They have a set of expectations coming in and they know that when we start working early in the season, even the swimming during Water polo season, is to prepare us for the swimming season. All that hard work from season to season pays off in March. No matter what storm comes through the North Penn swimmers are prepared,” said Coach Jeff Faikish.

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