Junior Brandon Umstead was Upper Perk's lone entry on the boys' side of the state championships held last Friday and Saturday at Bucknell University. Umstead competed in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.
While they did not come away with any medals, several Upper Perk swimmers found that their participation in the state championship meet at Bucknell University last weekend was a win.
Brandon Umstead, Kirsten Siwy, Christina Williams, Jackie Hammill and Kristen Kilroy got a chance to go against the best of Pennsylvania and the experience was educational and exhilarating.
"It was awesome. Walking out across the bulkhead was just awesome," said Siwy, who swam the 200 individual medley, the 100 free and the 200 medley relay.
Hammill, who swam the butterfly leg of the medley relay, agreed with Siwy's assessment. "Bucknell's a beautiful place. It was great to see. It was very exciting. The atmosphere was incredible."
Upper Perk co-coach Brien Kalnoski called the experience "very unique," especially for the swimmers who move on during the weekend.
"During the consolation and finals heat at night, Kinney Natatorium is filled with anticipation and really gets loud with all the cheering that is going on. It is an experience as a swimmer and coach that you never forget."
Junior Brandon Umstead had been there last year with a large contingent of Upper Perk swimmers. This year's championships were somewhat different for him.
"This year I was myself most of the time, because the girls were at a different session. I was more focused because of that," Umstead noted.
He placed 10th in the 200 IM in 1:59.57 after recording a time of 2:00.05 in the preliminary heat. His time in the consolation finals reset his team record by .01 seconds.
The difference might have been his backstroke, which Umstead said was too slow in the prelims.
"I knew I had to pick up my backstroke arm pace a little more. I knew I had to turn over my strokes a little faster," he said.
In the 100 backstroke, Umstead finished 13th in 54.45. It was not his best time, but Umstead was satisfied. "I was tired afterwards; that's what really matters. I gave it all I had."
Siwy was 20th in the 100 free (54.73), moving up six places and 23rd in the 200 IM (2:17.56)
Kirsten was happy with her performances, especially in the free.
"I dropped time, so I like to see that," she said.
The relay team finished in 20th place in 1:55.69. Christina Williams led off at 30.55 in the backstroke, Kristen Kilroy did the breast leg in 32.01, Hammill followed in 28.05 and Siwy finished up with the free in 25.08.
"All the swimmers did a great job swimming at the state championship swim meet," said Kalnoski, who shares duties with Kyle Kuser. "The competition at this level is very tough and there were a lot of fast times this past weekend."
Umstead, Siwy and Hammill will return next season and the knowledge gained at states will be very helpful.
Kalnoski noted, "For Brandon, Jackie and Kirsten, who are underclassmen, to have that experience is invaluable as we prepare for next season."
"I definitely want to be back there next year," said Hammill. "Hopefully, we can get more people there, and I think we're just going to definitely grow as a team."
Siwy was motivated by watching some of the top finishers.
"I definitely know what to expect now. I'm going to be training much more in the summer. I hope I can place top 16 next year," she said.