Swimming: Your PIAA Championships primer

The final four days of the 2013-14 swim season beckon at Bucknell University, and a sizeable Delco contingent will have plenty to say about what goes down at Kinney Natatorium for the PIAA Championships this week. Wednesday and Thursday will host the showpiece Class AAA meet, with the Class AA championships to follow Friday and Saturday. Here are a few of the talking points from a Delco perspective:

– By the Numbers. First off, 11 teams in Delaware County will be represented in some way, shape or form. That’s down slightly from 12 last year. Seven of the nine Delco Central League schools and nine of the 12 total are represented (excluding Marple Newtown, Upper Darby and Harriton). From Delco, 27 individuals qualified in 39 individual events at states, plus eight relays. The bulk of those numbers (22 swimmers split evenly across genders, 31 events and six relays) come in Class AAA. The Class AAA girls have twice the number of double-entrants (six) as the boys (three). Bonner-Prendergast and Archbishop Carroll supply the three individuals and eight swimming entries to the Class AA meet, none seeded higher than Carroll’s Caroline Quindlen (19th in the 100 backstroke).

– Sister (and brother) act. Three sets of siblings will travel to Bucknell from Delco. Haverford’s Connor and Maddie Hart are each entered in two events for the second straight season. Strath Haven’s Clay Resweber (100, 200) will join sister Frances (200, 500) in two freestyle events. And Radnor sisters Tatyana and Sasha Smolyansky will each contest the 100 backstroke.

– Lucky No. 14? Connor Hart finished 14th in the 200 free and 14th in the 500 free last season. This year, he’s seeded, well, 14th in the 200 free and 14th in the 500 free. He peaked significantly last year as the postseason wore on and will hope that trend continues.

– A safe Haven. After a strong performance at Centrals, I figured Strath Haven had rested enough to hamper their performances at Districts. Then they went out and did what they did at Districts, preventing me from casting any aspersions about what they could do this week. Freshmen like Camille Jablonski (15th in the 200 individual medley, 17th in the 100 breast) and Summer Martin (21st in the 50, 23rd in the 100 free) still have no idea how fast they’re capable of going.

– The quest for Hart-ware. Delco’s best chance for a state title is Maddie Hart. The Haverford sophomore rose to the occasion last year at Bucknell. This year, she’s seeded second in the 100 fly, just six tenths behind North Allegheny’s Kayla Churman, despite it being her weaker event. The 100 back may be tougher sledding, with Hart seeded seventh behind highly-coveted recruits like Indiana-bound Ali Rockett of Wilson and Georgia signee Meaghan Raab of Hershey. That’s a difficult field to navigate. Her best chance might be in the medley relay, where the Fords are seeded third.

– Going out with a title? The variation in diving scores only tell you so much, so take the ninth seed of Sun Valley’s Mike Proietto in the Class AA diving field with a grain of salt. The senior finished seventh in last year’s meet. Only problem? The top 14 finishers were all underclassmen, including freshman champion and state-record holder Bradley Buchter of Trinity. The door to a title might be barred, but Proietto can at least see how much progress he’s made in the last 12 months.

– Youth in revolt. I think I’ve mentioned this once or twice, but there are a few freshmen involved in this meet. When you look at the girls state qualifiers, the vast majority of the 11 swimmers are freshmen (Jablonski, Ridley’s Gab Rudy, Martin, Sasha Smolyansky) and sophomores (Resweber, O’Hara’s Hanna Blewett, Hart). By contrast, eight of the 11 Class AAA boys from Delco are seniors.

– A Fran-tic pace. Strath Haven’s Frances Resweber is in the unusual position of being a higher seed at the PIAA championships (ninth in the 200 free, seventh in the 500 free) than at the District One meet. That’s a testament to her hard work this postseason. We’ll see how the dynamics of the AAA meet coming first – meaning the swimmers not from District 12 are only nine days removed from districts – will affect the choreography of a double-dip taper, and that effect could be more pronounced on distance swimmers with less time to ramp up yardage before dropping back down.

– Finals watch. The format at states is to take A and B finals in all individual events and relays, meaning top 16. So who to watch for there? We already mentioned the Harts and Frances Resweber. Jablonski could very well make it back, as could Blewett (22nd in the 50 and 100 free) and Martin given the hectic nature of their events. I have a feeling Tatyana Smolyansky, seeded 22nd, could be swimming angry after a time that wasn’t to her liking at districts, while both the Haverford and Radnor medley relays and one or both of the Haven free relays (seeded 18th in the 200 and 13th in the 400) could earn second swims. For the boys, the only single-digit seed is the Radnor boys medley relay, which could scare the Delco record (set by this year’s Haverford School team at 1:34.12). Hart has a chance, as does Clay Resweber in the 200 free. Mitchell Gartland is seeded 13th in the 100 breast and could deliver something special, while I’ll be interested to see what Brendan Ryan (seeded 20th in the 100 back) can do with just one event to focus on, provided he’s healthy.

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