Upper Perk's Brandon Umstead took the gold medal in the 200 individual medley and set a new school record for the event at the District 1AA Championships at LaSalle University.
Upper Perk's boys and girls swim teams put together some outstanding performances during last weekend's District 1AA Championships at LaSalle University and will send several members to the state meet late next week.
While a championship was never in the cards for the boys, as it was the last two years, the team of just five swimmers excelled, getting gold and silver medal performances from Brandon Umstead and earning medals in 14 of 15 events.
Umstead captured the 200 individual medley in a school record time (1:59.58) while qualifying for states. Umstead bested nemesis Morgan Schreiber of Pottsgrove.
"I was focused on going as fast as I can, but on turns I looked over, and I could see where he was at," Umstead said. "Other than that, I was trying to focus on my race."
Schreiber got his revenge by nipping Umstead in the 100 backstroke, but the Upper Perk junior still qualified for states and set a new team record (53.87) in that event.
The headliner for the girls was Kirsten Siwy who will swim in three events at states: the 200 IM (2:15.93), the 100 free and the 200 medley relay.
The Tribe sophomore broke a 17-year-old team record in the 100 free (55.04) while finishing in fourth place and anchored the 200 medley relay (1:54.72) to fourth place and another team record. The relay, composed of Christina Williams, Kristen Kilroy, Jackie Hammill and Siwy, dropped six seconds off its previous best time.
First-year co-coaches Brien Kalnoski and Kyle Kuser were ecstatic about the performances of all of the swimmers.
"I think the surprise for both Kyle and I was by how much they dropped their seed times," Kalnoski noted. "I think if we went back and looked at the results compared to other teams our small contingent of swimmers had the biggest cumulative total time drops at the district meet."
Umstead, who along with his four teammates endured pre-ordained losses in regular season meets, in turn called the boys' performances at districts "tremendous," "awesome" and "phenomenal."
"We didn't really think about [losing meets]. We thought about individual swimming, and we kept it at that. We didn't mind that we lost meets. We were just happy when we placed our best times," Umstead related.
Other top male performances included Ryan Mercando's third in the 100 butterfly (58.63) and a fourth-place finish by the 200 free relay team of Mercando, Tyler Reed, Mitch Cairns and Umstead.
Additionally, for the girls, Becca Rose joined Williams, Siwy and Kilroy on the 400 medley relay (3:47.39) for a sixth-place medal.
"I do not like singling out any one individual. But what I will say about Brandon and the girls is that they have worked extremely hard this season, and their hard work has paid off by them making it to states," said Kalnoski.
"In addition, Mitch Cairns, Ryan Mercando, Tyler Reed, Melissa Kilroy and Becca Rose worked equally hard to get to districts and had great performances at that meet as well, even though they did not make it to states."
Umstead and Siwy credited the new coaching staff with a taper strategy that had the swimmers peaking at the right time, despite some early misgivings about the big increase in yardage emphasized by the new coaches.
"I was a little nervous, but it worked out well," said Siwy.
"During the season everybody was just so tired. Once taper came, the muscles got so much stronger," noted Umstead.
This will be Umstead's second trip to states, Siwy's first.
Umstead sees the familiarity as a small advantage.
"I know what to expect now. I didn't know how everything was going to work, so that was nerve-wracking a little bit."
Umstead is intent on medaling next week.
"I really want to place top eight; that's my goal. I have a little bit of work to do, but I think I might be able to do it."
Siwy's main goals are to drop time in her individual events and to contribute to the relay team.
"We want to break the record some more."