They know they’re facing long odds to qualify for the PIAA Championships, but a quintet of Gettysburg swimmers is ready to give it all they’ve got to earn a spot this weekend at the District 3 meet at Cumberland Valley High School.
Just a few years ago that wasn’t the case.
Gettysburg was moved from Class 2A to 3A three years ago, when its enrollment numbers rose, and it’ll compete in that higher classification for at least one more season. The next count will be done before the 2024-25 school year.
“It was frustrating when we jumped from 2A to 3A, because we’d be medaling at districts and states if we were still 2A. Now we’re just trying to get to states,” Gettysburg head coach Amanda Turner said. “It’s going to take some personal bests to get there, but the boys have been working really hard.”
One swimmer, senior Zach Tipton, has his attention pointed clearly at the school record in the 100 breaststroke, the longest-standing swimming record in school history. It was set by 1996 grad Matt Teeter.
“My goal is to break that record and I’m 1.5 seconds off of it. I’ve been working really hard to try to get there,” Tipton said. “I’ve taken a full second off of my time this year and took two seconds off last year. Being fully rested should help my chances.”
All of Gettysburg’s swimmers should be fully rested as they haven’t competed since the Mid-Penn meet three weeks ago.
Tipton is seeded eighth, with a time of 1:00.04, and also has a time of 2:04.36 in the 200 IM to earn the 17th seed.
Following graduation this spring, Tipton will swim collegiately at Washington College of the Centennial Conference.
Senior Zach Turner is slated to participate in the 50 free (21.88, 9th) and 100 free (48.52, 16th).
“The 50 free is my best event and I want to break the school record, because that would probably be good enough to qualify me for states,” he said. “We’re all pretty prepared for this weekend. We’ve had three weeks to rest and get ready.”
Turner originally swam the distance freestyle events but switched over to sprints in the past two years. He signed into the Pennsylvania Air Force National Guard last week and will attend basic training this summer. He plans to attend either Millersville University or Penn State Behrend when he completes Air Force tech school.
Senior Sam Nelson has earned a spot in the 500 free (4:49.52, 5th) and 200 free (1:47.66, 11th).
“We know how hard it is to get to states in 3A, but we’re working as hard as we can to get there,” Nelson said. “It would be a nice finish to my high school career if I could get there.”
Nelson plans to continue competing in college and he’ll do so locally when he attends Gettysburg College.
The Warriors also have a pair of relay teams that will be competing.
In the 400 free relay, the Maroon & White posted a time of 3:22.71 that earned an 8-seed. That quartet is made up of Nelson and Turner, along with senior Finn Clarke and junior Alex Koufos.
“This is my first time swimming at districts, so I’m really excited about the opportunity,” Nelson said. “If we put it all together, we’ll have a shot at states.”
Clarke hasn’t decided where he’ll be attending college and is waiting to hear back from several schools.
The 200 IM relay team consists of Tipton, Nelson, Turner and Koufos. Their qualifying time is 1:40.48, good enough for an eighth seed at districts.
“I’m feeling pretty good about our chances in the 400 relay,” Koufos said. “I need to improve my time in the back to help the 200 medley relay team.”
Coach Turner is proud of the efforts of her swimmers, regardless of how things turn out this weekend.
“All I’m hoping for is that they all swim their best,” Turner said. “If they do that, there’s nothing more you can ask from them.”
On the girls’ side of things, despite not having full teams, both Bermudian Springs and Littlestown have entrants in the 2A field.
Berm senior Kate Elliott will compete in the 200 IM where her 2:16.98 time earned her the third seed. Elliot’s time of 1:09.65 in the 100 breaststroke slots her in third in that event, as well.
As for the Bolts, sophomore Victoria Kile is the 21st seed in the 500 free with a 6:23.11 time.
The state swim meet is slated for March 15-18 at Bucknell University.
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas
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