LEWISBURG – It’s going to be a busy evening for Haverford’s Maddie Hart.
The freshman will swim twice in Friday evening’s finals at the PIAA Class AAA championships at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium in the Fords’ 200 medley relay and 100 butterfly.
The relay team of Hart, Annie O’Brien, Emily Wolfe and Candace Brown finished fourth in the morning prelims, clocking in at 1:47.59. That’s seven tenths faster than at the District One Championships two weeks ago.
Perhaps most impressive is that it wasn’t all Hart’s doing. In fact, her opening split of 26.74 in backstroke was a half second slower than districts. The slack was picked up, though, by a very strong middle two legs with breaststroker O’Brien (30.56) and butterflier Wolfe (25.31) delivering very fast times. Wolfe’s was a staggering .94 faster than districts.
Hart finished third in the final heat of four in the 100 fly, clocking in at 56.80. It’s slightly slower than the 56.63 that earned her the seventh seed entering the day. The top seed in the final will be Northeastern’s Niki Price at 54.51, followed by West Chester East and Suburban Swim Club swimmer Christina Leander.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Sean Swartz.
Through the all the YMCA meets – districts and nationals are looming – and scholastic swimming, states held a special place for the Springfield senior. And neither meet nor swimmer disappointed Friday.
Swartz went 52.80 in his final high school swim, finishing 22nd in the 100 fly.
Even though he wasn’t among the top 18 swimmers returning for finals, he was certainly satisfied with the experience.
“It’s awesome. I’ve wanted to make up here for a couple of years,” Swartz said. “To hear my named called here is pretty cool. It’s a great way to end a career. I had a pretty good race and felt pretty good. It was right off my best time.”
Swimming in an outside lane in the first heat, Cardinal O’Hara’s Hanna Blewett had to be reasonable about her expectations in the 200 freestyle.
Cutting almost a second from her best time certainly exceeded them.
The freshman clocked in at 1:57.84 in the event, matching her seed of 30th and cutting nine tenths off the time she set at the District 12 championships four weeks ago.
“I did not expect the other girls to swim that fast,” Blewett said. “But I tried my best and put all I had into it and the outcome was good. I’m glad I trained this hard.”
The time drop gives Blewett reason to feel good about Saturday’s swim, the 100 free. She’s seeded 29th over the shorter distance.
“It helps to know that because I did my best in this event, I know it can be even better tomorrow,” Blewett said. “It’s shorter and it’s a sprint, so you never know.”
Connor Hart wasn’t happy when he got out of the water after the 200 free. His time of 1:43.61, slower than at districts, wasn’t exactly to his liking. And he didn’t feel as though he swam his race.
Sitting 11th with two heats remaining, he would need a little help.
He got it, setting up a “redemption swim” tonight. Hart enters the final seeded 14th.
It was a quick day for the Delco sprint contingent, though not in the way either had hoped for, as neither Ridley’s Kiera Wadsworth nor Penncrest’s Mary Kate Boylan making finals in the 50 free.
Wadsworth was sixth in the first heat, getting off the block slow to finish 30th overall with a time of 25.33 that was six tenths slower than the districts swim that got her here. It’s still a solid time from Wadsworth, who is training through the meet has her sights focused on the upcoming Y Nationals meet.
Boylan was out faster but came back to the field in her swim in the third heat. Swimming out of lane 1, the Penncrest junior was 24th overall in a time of 24.72. She had clocked in at 24.43 at districts.
Among those advancing to finals in the 100 fly was a very excited Tyler Cummings, the former Interboro swimmer.
The West Chester Rustin sophomore clocked in at 51.77 seconds, a cut of almost four tenths from his districts time to earn the 14th spot in today’s finals.
“It means a lot,” Cummings said. “I didn’t expect it. I expected to get a good time, but I didn’t expect it to make it back.”
Cummings, who qualified for districts last season as a freshman at Interboro, and his family moved out of their Tinicum home over the summer and relocated to the West Chester school district to be closer to his grandmother. It’s also closer to the club he primarily trained at while a Buc in Westtown.
The atmosphere at Rustin has helped Cummings flourish. The team, which recently went through a coaching change after former coach Kenneth Fuller was jailed for having sex with a minor, is succeeding under the tutelage of former Suburban Swim Club and Penn State swimmer Kelly Nelson. The effect has been a positive one for Cummings.
“At Rustin, we’re more of a team,” Cummings said. “We all hang out and all have different expectations for each other. We all challenge each other every day.”
Notes: Garnet Valley’s Lauren Early didn’t make it back to finals of the 200 individual medley. She clocked in at 2:11.98, almost two seconds slower than her district time, to finish 25th overall. … Penncrest’s Philip Nawn took home 24th in the 200 IM, his time a 1:58.46. … Garnet Valley’s Anthony Richardson was 27th in the 200 free, clocking in at 1:46.27.up, though, by a very strong middle two legs with breaststroker O’Brien (30.56) and butterflier Wolfe (25.31) delivering very fast times. Wolfe’s was a staggering .94 faster than districts.