Philip Badman swims the butterfly leg of the boys' 200-yard medley relay in Thursday's meet against Lansdale Catholic.
Girls and boys earn victories in meet against Lansdale Catholic
The calendar year concluded on an up note for the Upper Perk swim teams, but the real focus was on the future in a boys and girls' sweep of Lansdale Catholic last week. The girls came away with an 88-78 win while the boys triumphed 79-49.
Coach Jessica Smith used the meet as an opportunity to get the team refocused after a spate of illness, and, in the case of the boys team, work them hard while giving many swimmers a break from their normal strokes.
In the meet, the girls got strong showings from their top swimmers. Jackie Hammill recorded her best times of the year in both butterfly and backstroke, and Kristen Kilroy did the same in her 200 individual medley.
Hammill took first in the fly (1:05.51) and tied for second in the backstroke (1:08.80) with teammate Christina Williams. Kilroy captured the IM in 2:26.71.
Those three, along with Danielle Marino, won the 200 medley relay in 2:01.48 when Hammill’s strong effort in the fly got Upper Perk the lead and Marino held off the Crusaders' relay in the freestyle leg.
All the positives, from Smith’s perspective, validate what is going on both in and out of the water at this time of year.
“At this point in our season, we’re getting some general fitness, some strength and specific to swimming strength, some explosive, quick, fast twitch muscle kind of strength.”
In addition to the usual after school practices, most of the team also participates in pre-school dry land morning workouts conducted at the Y by former Upper Perk head coach Michael Tannous.
One of the swimmers benefitting is Marino, who also won the 50 free (27.73) against Lansdale Catholic. She has been consistently showing up at the 40- to 60-minute workouts two or three times a week.
“I focus on cardio and arms,” she said.
Other factors have also play-ed into her improvement.
“Danielle has had a great season so far,” said Smith. "She’s really struggled with injuries in the past. She’s really past that, and able to give us a full effort in every practice, and I think that’s what you’re seeing in her improvement in the race times.”
The boys result was pre-ordained before the meet even began, so Smith got some swimmers out of their comfort zones by placing them in events they do not normally swim.
“They get a break from doing the same thing over and over again,” the coach noted. “We want to keep their strongest strokes still fresh for them.”
Senior Jason Mercando, who won the 200 free (1:56.26) and 100 back (1:02.57), agrees with his coach’s strategy.
“It’s not all about times. It’s about being diverse and trying your best even though you might not have good experience in that kind of [event].
“I think a lot of the boys are stepping up, because now there are more spots to fill. The freshmen are doing a lot more than usual,” said Mercando.
One of those freshmen, who got a look in an off event, impressed his coach.
“I tried out Hunter Peck in the 500 free, and I think he looked great. He was really nervous about doing that for the first time, but I think that was a really great swim,” Smith related.
Peck finished second to Mason Cassel who was also swimming a different than normal event. Cassel did the 20 laps in 5:24.25, Peck in 5:31.36.
Kyle Himmelwright was the other double individual winner for the Tribe, picking up firsts in the 200 IM (2:17.84) and the 100 free (53.66).
While the Tribe now has several days before the next meet, it is not going to be a vacation. Smith was looking forward to practice this week to get 2013 off on the right foot.
“We’re going to double down over the break and hit them hard,” she said.