By NATALIE SCHURMANN
Special to 21st-Century Media
Twelve years ago, most of the freshmen in this year's District 1 Swimming Championships, beginning today at La Salle University's Kirk Natatorium, were toddlers. 2002 was the year of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated' and the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games. It was also the beginning of Villa Maria Academy's winning streak at the District 1 Class AA meet. Three state championships later, coach Cathy Hay and the Hurricanes aim to continue the trend with a 12th consecutive team trophy.
With top seeds in both the 200-yard medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay, and a second seed in the 200 freestyle relay, Villa could score major points in the relay events. Other potential points lie in the 200 individual medley, with senior Olivia Tierney seeded fifth, sophomore Lizzie Law seeded sixth, sophomore Nicole Saladino seeded ninth and freshman Hope Reynolds seeded 10th.Villa also has four of the top ten seeds in the 50 freestyle (freshman Olivia Giampietro, second; freshman Maura McManus, fifth; sophomore Ashlyn Chermol, seventh and freshman Katelyn Chick, eighth) and 100 butterfly (junior Julie Dobson, second; freshman Mary Clark, fourth; junior Alyssa Myers, sixth and junior Dana Ratner, seventh).
Freshman Maura McManus also holds the second seed in the 100 freestyle, as does sophomore Emily Cornell in the 100 backstroke. Hay and her swimmers will rely on their depth to achieve their goal of another district championship.Hay also hopes to have many qualifiers for the PIAA State Championships, which will be at Bucknell University in two weeks. "The whole state is faster, and AA is especially fast,' she said. "You've got to be concerned about where you are within District 1.' Another local swimmer of note in Class AA is Octorara junior Madison Oster, seeded third in the 500 freestyle and eighth in the 100 breaststroke.In the Class AAA meet, West Chester Henderson girls have top ten seeds in the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay. Key swimmers include junior Maddie McNichol, third in the 200 and 500 freestyle, and freshman Rachel Hazard, seeded 11th in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly. Teammwise, the Henderson boys are seeded ninth in the 200 medley relay and 11th in the 400 freestyle relay. Defending state champion in the 100 breaststroke, senior Thomas McCormick is the Warriors' top-seeded individual, holding the second seed in the 200 individual medley and the No. 1 seed in the 100 breaststroke, where he finished fourth last year.
Head coach Jeff Bott hopes his swimmers will see an entire season of training pay off. "In an intense meet like districts, it comes down to a few tenths of a second as to whether individuals and relays advance to states,' said Bott. "Being focused, yet being relaxed and enjoying the moment are some of the most important things now.'The Rustin girls will have with Megan Koczur, seeded seventh in the 100 backstroke and Juliet McLaughlin is 12th. Senior Erin Fife holds the No. 14 seed in the 100 butterfly and 15th in the 200 individual medley. Their 200 medley relay team is seeded 11th.The Rustin boys have top-ten seeds in the 100 butterfly (Tyler Cummings, sixth), 100 backstroke (Brendan Yoo, ninth), while Ben Service is seeded 15th in the 100 breaststroke. Their 200 and 400 freestyle relays are seeded 12th, and the 200 medley relay squad is seeded eighth.
Unionville's Laura Barthold has the ninth seed in the 200 freestyle and the eighth in the 500 freestyle. For the boys, senior Ben Halkowski has the 15th seeed in the 50 freestyle. Teamwise, the Indians are No. 10 in the 200 free relay and 15th in the boys 200 medley relay and 14th in the 400 free relay.
For Conestoga, Alex Schon is seeded third in the 200 individual medley and second in the 100 butterfly, while senior Michael Ashmead is seeded sixth in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 50 freestyle. The boys 400 free relay team is seeded fourth and third in the 200 medley relay third.
The girls boast three top-six seeds in the 100 butterfly (Abby Mack, first; Caroline Apathy, fifth and Kaitlin Benjamin, sixth). They also come in seeded second in two relays, the 200 medley and 400 free.For Avon Grove, freshman Emma Brinton is seeded fifth in the 200 individual medley and 11th in the 500 free. Sophomore Justin Carey is seeded 16th in the 200 individual medley.
Downingtown West boys have the eighth seed in the 400 free relay, while Owen Dougherty and Quentin Cody hold top-ten seeds in the 100 breaststroke and 100 freestyle, respectively. West's girls are seeded ninth the 200 freestyle relay. Emily Harris holds the fifth seed in the 200 freestyle.In last year's meet the Conestoga girls placed third with Unionville and Henderson right behind them. Rustin was the highest-placed boys team, finishing fifth.