PALMYRA - As much as any other team sport, perhaps more so, swim teams have a familial feel to them. Long hours spent in the pool together training intensely has a way of creating bonds that aren't easily broken.
As a result, events like the Senior Day the Palmyra boys and girls swim teams celebrated on Tuesday take on extra special meaning, particularly when they are accompanied by important victories.
The Cougars enjoyed just such a scenario in their final home meet of the season, honoring eight seniors with a dual meet sweep of Mid-Penn Keystone Division rival Lower Dauphin.
Paced by double individual wins from Samantha St. Clair and Ellie Keck, the Palmyra girls grabbed a 98-72 victory and inched closer to a sixth straight Keystone Division title, while the Cougar boys squad continued a very solid season with an impressive 103-67 triumph highlighted by individual wins from Nick Mosby, Austin Durand, Joe Bushta and Zack Toth.
"Truly, I think I say this every year, we have the best group of seniors out there," said Palmyra coach Cynthia Lyons, who honored one boy and eight senior girls on Tuesday, including girls team standouts and twin sisters Kate and Abbey Hess. "It is really a group of kids that put their heart and soul into a sport and their Cougar swimming family. It means everything to be able to celebrate them. All season, but particularly on a night like tonight."
The Cougars indeed had a lot to celebrate Tuesday, first on the girls' side, where St. Clair (200, 500 freestyle) paced a superb overall performance that also included event victories for Keck (50 free, 100 butterfly), Maddie Wolfe (100 free) and Becky Giordano (100 breast stroke). In addition, the Cougars were also victorious in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
The boys, meanwhile, were equally impressive thanks to the efforts of Mosby, Durand, Bushta, Toth and the winning 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams.
"Lower Dauphin is always very challenging," Lyons said. "They're a great team. Unfortunately for them this year, their numbers are low for their boys, but as far as talent goes it stretches all across the lanes. You never know what they're gonna show up with. It's always a puzzle trying to put it all together, and it worked for us tonight."
The rest of the division has a veritable Rubik's Cube to solve in the Palmyra girls team, which can stretch its domination of the Keystone to a half dozen years next week with a victory at fellow division unbeaten Mechanicsburg.
"We are both going into the meet next week undefeated," Lyons said, "so it's always a good season when it comes down to that 400 freestyle relay (the meet's final event). It's hard to watch, it's hard to coach. We'll see, we'll see what happens."
Whatever does take place next week at Mechanicsburg won't alter the good feelings created by Tuesday's Senior Day festivities, which left a lasting impression on both the honorees - Kevin Cole, the Hess sisters, Julia Ferrer, Laura Massar, Kelsei Bixler, Hannah Kleimenhagen and Kaitlin Winter - and those who honored them.
"We're so blessed," Lyons said of the seniors. "They are all team players. They are all about the team, they are not about themselves. They've joined this family and they've got a lot of great memories to move forward with."