EASTTOWN -- If a champion boxer hasn't fought in a while and is heading into a title bout against a rugged challenger, he frequently will schedule a "tune-up' bout against a lesser opponent. And, more often than not, the champ will carry that fight into the later rounds rather than going all-out for a quick knockout so that he can shake off the ring rust and fine-tune his game.
Conestoga High School's boys and girls swimming teams followed a similar pattern in Monday afternoon's Central League dual meet against Marple Newtown at the Upper Main Line YMCA. With the showdown against neighborhood nemesis and perennial Central League power Radnor scheduled for next Monday, the Pioneers took it easy in this Monday's meet against the Tigers.
Pioneers boys coach Mark Tirone and girls coach Rob Kirkby knew that they didn't have to go with a "loaded' line-up against Marple Newtown. So, they limited many of their top swimmers to just one or two events and still cruised to easy wins. The Pioneers posted a 101-63 victory in the boys meet and logged a 93-69 win in the girls meet.
Because Conestoga's girls squad spread its wealth around, the team did not have any individual double-winners. But, one family did account for two individual victories. The Mack sisters -- Abby Mack and Anna Mack -- each claimed victory with Abby Mack winning the 50 free and Anna Mack placing first in the 500 free.
"I was sick last week with stomach flu and I'm just now getting back,' said senior Abby Mack, who was also on the winning 200 freestyle relay with Linda Ashmead, Kaitlin Benjamin and Nikki Bookwalter.
"The 50 free felt pretty good. I worked my underwater and that's been my main focus this year. The best part about my 50 free today was my turn.'
Anna Mack, a freshman, said, "My season best in a dual meet for the 500 free is one second faster than what I went today -- and I was pushed in that race. It's easier to go faster when you have people with you. Today, I just wanted to pace myself so I didn't get tired.'
Other individual winners for Conestoga's girls' team were Emma Wydeven in the 200 IM, Caroline Apathy in the 100 butterfly, Laura McClintick in the 100 free, Emily Booz in the 100 backstroke and Benjamin in the 200 free.
The Pioneers showed some of their "sibling power' Monday. Emma Wydeven was joined on the winning 200 medley relay by her sister Grace Wydeven along with Linda Ashmead and Amber Zimmerman.
Linda Ashmead's brother Michael Ashmead was the only individual double-winner in the boys' meet. The speedy senior started with a win in the 200 IM and came back later in the meet to touch first in the 100 breaststroke. He also was on the victorious 200 medley relay with Chase Ciotti, Chris Wang and Bohan Song.
"I took it out in 29.2 in breast and that's really good for a dual meet,' said Ashmead, who will swim for Johns Hopkins University next year. "I don't usually swim breast but I'm trying to work on all my strokes for the IM.
"My 200 IM felt really good today. Backstroke is my weakest stroke so I've been working on it a lot in practice. At the start of the season, my back split was at 32.0 and now it's under 30.0.'
Wang was also a key point producer for the Pioneers. The talented junior was first in the 50 freestyle and was part of the winning foursome in the 200 freestyle relay along with Patrick Hopkins, Alex Schon and Alan Shen."I'm happy with my 23.8 today in the 50 free,' said Wang. "My best time swimming for Conestoga is 23.6 and I've gone 23.2 for UMLY (the Upper Main Line YMCA team). Everything just felt solid. Nothing was bad.'
Other first-place finishers for Conestoga's boys squad were Schon in the 100 freestyle, Raju Kolluru in the 100 breaststroke and Lucas Fanucci in the 500 freestyle.
"The 500 free felt good,' said Fanucci, a senior. "I tried to keep it long. The 5:23 is a solid time. I'm just trying to work on the small things -- turns, breakouts and finishes.'
Because no diving facilities were available at the Upper Main Line YMCA, the diving event for both boys and girls will be contested January 8 at Marple Newtown.
Marple Newtown 69 (GIRLS)
200-yard medley relay -- Conestoga (Wydeven, Zimmerman, Wydeven, Ashmead) 1:59.50; 200 freestyle -- Benjamin (C) 2:02.99; 200 IM -- E. Wydeven (C) 2:30.19; 50 freestyle -- Abby Mack (C) 26.27; diving -- to be contested January 8 at Marple Newtown; 100 butterfly -- Apathy (C) 1:03.36; 100 freestyle -- McClintick (C) 1:00.16; 500 freestyle -- Anna Mack (C) 5:49.61; 200 freestyle relay -- Conestoga (Ab. Mack, Ashmead, Benjamin, Bookwalter) 1:49.23; 100 backstroke -- Emily Booz (C) time not available; 100 breaststroke -- McCloskey (M) 1:14.64; 400 freestyle relay -- Marple Newtown (Loro, Fritsch, Dietrich, Coughlin) 4:30.36.
Marple Newtown 63 (BOYS)
200-yard medley relay -- Conestoga (Ciotti, Ashmead, Wang, Song) 1:47.05; 200 freestyle -- McKenrick (C) 1:52.45; 200 IM -- Ashmead (C) 2:03.42; 50 freestyle -- Wang (C) 23.81; diving -- to be contested January 8 at Marple Newtown; 100 butterfly -- Barnes (M) 1:00.45; 100 freestyle -- Schon (C) 50.48; 500 freestyle -- Fanucci (C) 5:23.14; 200 freestyle relay -- Conestoga (Hopkins, Wang, Schon, Shen) 1:36.54; 100 backstroke -- Kolluru (C) 58.07; 100 breaststroke -- Ashmead (C) time not available; 400 freestyle relay -- Marple Newtown (Feinberg, Barnes, Bohn, Truax) 3:43.51.