Freshman swimmer Marielle Kuhns swims the breast stroke in the 200 yard individual medley.
The Christmas break was anything but a vacation for the dedicated members of the Upper Perk boys' and girls' swim teams, as they prepped for their long-awaited meet against the vaunted Boyertown Bears on Tuesday. The end result was a double loss for the Tribe’s squads, but a giant leap in understanding what it takes to swim at the highest levels.
“Boyertown’s always a very, very good team,” Upper Perk coach Missy Peart said after the Bears defeated her girls, 109-61, and the boys, 98-72.
“Boyertown has very good freshmen, and we were hoping we could win, but we’re very pleased, I’m not upset at all. We’re very pleased with the kids’ times and you really can’t ask for more than what they did,” she said.
The Boyertown girls were led by Laura Simpson (200 free and 100 free), Taylor Cisik (100 fly and 100 back) and Haley Heydt (200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke), who each captured two individual firsts.
Ethan Fritch was a double winner for the Boyertown boys in the 200 individual medley and the 500 free.
Jackie Hammill was the only Upper Perk girl to win an event, the 50 free, in 27.70. The Tribe’s freshman sensation nipped teammate Danielle Marino who finished second.
The Tribe did have a slew of second place finishes. Felicia Sloyer was runner-up in the 200 free and the 100 back, sophomore Kristen Kilroy took second in the 100 free and the 100 breaststroke and Hammill was second in the 100 fly.
For the boys, Mason Cassel continued his outstanding season with firsts in the 50 free (23.40) and the 100 fly (53.99).
The medley relay (Brandon Umstead, Zak Kibler, Cassel and Blade Umstead) and the 400 free relay (Cassel, Jason Mercando, Matt Rose, Collin Junk) bookended the meet with wins for Upper Perk.
The medley relay ended in a rare dead heat in a time of 1:45.38.
Among the reasons Peart was pleased with her team were season best times for Cassel and Hammill in the butterfly, and for the boys medley and 400 relays.
That was somewhat of a surprise to the coach who had her team swim record amounts of yardage in what she described as “high octane practices.”
“All of them were very, very tired because of training last week,” Peart said. “We did not expect to have best of best times today.”
Peart used the practices to send a message about the mental side of competitive swimming.
“One thing we discussed heavily last week was intention. The kids came in here today and they felt tired, and they felt they couldn’t swim their best. Both teams were ready as far as their physicality goes. It’s between their ears. They needed to focus more and get ready for the races.
“You cannot swim the same race every time you get into the pool. Nothing is going to change and your time will not go down. It worked for some kids today,” she said.
Peart praised Jason Mercando, Bryon Scholl, and Tyler Baskin for their successful adjustments in their races. “They focused on pace.”
The team continued its season-long emphasis on turns. Specifically, Peart relentlessly worked on the body dolphin, using the butterfly kick to stay steamlined longer coming off the wall.
“What we were focusing on most days was the wall. [Today] they were focused on technique and did great.”
Matt Rose’s turn in the 50 free got high marks from Peart, and Junk’s last turn in the 400 relay was the difference in a one-second margin of victory.
Now it is on with the rest of the season and a post season a couple of months away. Peart scoffed at the suggestion that the team might suffer a letdown now that Boyertown is in the rear view mirror.
“We’re ready to rock. We’re absolutely ready to go.”