Shippensburg freshman Madelyn Faccinei knew she would be coming into the swimming season facing adversity as a little fish in a big pond of upperclassmen.
But this little fish had another challenge ahead: A broken wrist.
Facchinei's left wrist bone cracked in half about six months ago due to lack of blood to the bone, forcing her to learn to live and swim with a waterproof cast for more than half the year.
"She is basically going to be swimming the entire season with a cast on her left forearm," Shippensburg coach Jeff Kaminski said. "And for her to be able to come in as a freshman and overcome that adversity, it speaks volumes."
Since the start of the season, Facchinei has made a statement in the 100 breaststroke, winning four of six races, and placed second in her first two meets as a high school swimmer. She is the Public Opinion Female Athlete of the Week.
"It didn't take too long to get used to the cast," Facchinei said. "But there was a lot of pressure during those first two meets, and the level of competition was high. But now I'm comfortable, and I'm swimming to get my best times."
Kaminski says the different competitive atmosphere required adjustment for new high school swimmers, even though Facchinei has been swimming for him since she was 8 years old.
"I think that played a role, but once she settled into that, her talent and her ability really took over for her," Kaminski said. "Especially in the last week, she is really showing a lot of confidence."
Last week, Facchinei's first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke locked in a win over Spring Grove for the Lady Hounds in the second-to-last event.
She entered the pool knowing that a win would push Shippensburg over the edge, but kept to her game plan.
Facchinei said, "It was nerve wracking, but I knew if I just focused on what was in my lane, and not the lanes beside me, I could do it."
She finished in 1:17.05; not her best time of the season, but enough to get the job done.
"She actually knew before the coaches came to talk to her," Kaminski said. "As a freshman with only a couple meets into the high school season, it really showed her competitive fire and willingness to let it all out there, and get the team be successful. The team really rallied around that."
Her best time of the season in the breaststroke came against Chambersburg, with a 1:15.86 finish, and her average is 1:16.67. Facchinei hopes to get her time down to 1:14, but Kaminski has bigger plans, aiming for a 1:12 to 1:13 breaststroke in time for Mid Penns.
Facchinei also helped win the 200 free relay against Spring Grove, and has continued to improve her 200 IM time. She finished first against James Buchanan in the 200 IM, swimming her best of the season, 2:28.8, a four-second improvement over her second-place finish at Mechanicsburg on Dec. 10.
"She has always had a feel for swimming," Kaminski said. "And it jumps right out to the coaches. She has a knack for the sport above understanding the strokes. She has great commitment, she's very driven and she has a tremendous self-discipline. Those qualities are so important in competitive swimming, and I'm very proud of her for it."
Madelyn Facchinei, Shippensburg
Parents: Vincent and Angela Facchinei
Events: IM, breaststroke
Other interests: She plays piano and enjoys singing.
Favorite team: Penn State football
Favorite athlete: Rebecca Soni
Statistics: Facchinei led the Lady Hounds to victory with a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke in the second-to-last event against Spring Grove ... That and her win in the 200 free relay, and two first-place finishes against James Buchanan propelled Shippensburg's girls to three consecutive wins last week.