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Numerous swimmers from York, Adams and Franklin counties have earned top seeds in the District 3 swimming championships set for this weekend. Jessica Sprenkle, GameTimePA.com

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York Suburban’s Cara Zortman has always swum with heart. Even when surrounded by star-power teammates, Zortman has been an integral part of the Trojans’ continued success at the YAIAA and District 3 Class 2A levels.

“What makes Cara so great is she is a team-oriented person. She puts the team ahead of what she wants to achieve on her own,” said Suburban coach Craig Brennan. “She has been like that all four years.”

But few people realize that Zortman has done this while dealing with a painful genetic skin condition named Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex, which causes the skin to be very fragile, to the point of constant blistering.

Zortman said the condition worsens in areas where her skin has too much friction, particularly her feet and hands. It makes running nearly impossible, which is why swimming has been the ticket for her athletically.

“I almost started swimming as a therapy,” she said. “When I was little, I often had trouble walking or wearing a certain pair of shoes, and I wouldn’t be able to walk for two or three days. I couldn’t walk but could go to the pool for practice and do something. It was a way to stay active and healthy.”

While the condition has improved greatly since her childhood, it still is something she has to deal with on occasion, even in the respite of the water. Earlier this season, Zortman’s blistered feet caused problems when the Trojans faced YAIAA Division II foe Susquehannock.

“That can hinder my performance because if my feet blister too much, it’s hard to push off the wall,” Zortman said. “It is harder to do the things that make the race work, so that has always been something I have to be careful of.”

However, in some ways, it’s made her a better athlete. She is especially tougher for the grueling workouts swimmers face.

“I have learned to fight through the pain just for the race. It hurts, but you do it any way,” she said. “I think it has made my pain threshold higher, so it allows me to do more in practice and get through these things, which allows me to swim faster.”

“Cara is the type of swimmer that will do everything she can to make it through a workout until there is no other option,” Brennan said. “She has done everything she can possibly do to overcome all the obstacles, which is something as a coach you are very proud of her.”

Both swimmer and coach are looking for the success to continue at this weekend’s District 3 championships at Cumberland Valley. And in Zortman’s case it will be about the team. She will swim on all three of Suburban’s relays, all of which are ranked in the top seven seeds entering districts.

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In all, the YAIAA has several top three seeds entering the district championship, which gets under way with the first day of the girls’ Class 2A competition at noon Friday at Cumberland Valley.

The talented West York girls take the top seed into the very first girls' 2A event (the 200-yard medley relay) and the last (the 400 freestyle relay).

All three of the tops seeds in the girls' 200 free are from the area, including record holder Courtney Harnish and Meghan French of West York. Eastern York’s Madison Nalls is the second seed.

Bulldogs senior Claudia Keller is seeded third in the 200 individual medley and second in the 100 backstroke. Teammate Maddi Stoner is second in the 100 butterfly. Nalls, French and Lindsay Brenneman of Dover are tops in the 500 free.

Biglerville freshman Sarah Hardy — the daughter of Gettysburg assistant coach Kevin Hardy — is seeded third as an independent in the 100 breaststroke.

The West York girls are expected to battle with Schuylkill Valley for the top spot in the girls’ 2A team standings. The Bulldogs got a bump last week when diver Erica Sarver won her third straight district title.

In 2A boys' action, Susquehannock’s Justin Reed is the top seed in the 100 butterfly. Teammate Logan McFadden is tops in the 500 free and third in the 200 IM. Nico DeAngelo II of Gettysburg is tops in the 100 free and mate Jared Herr is No. 2 seed in both the 200 and 500 free. Logan Hyde of Gettysburg is third in the 500.

In AAA boys, Northeastern’s Drew Wilson is the top seed in the 200 free. Dallastown’s Jacob Stoner is ranked No. 1 in the 100 fly. Teammate Logan Brockway is third in the 200 IM.

If you go 

Here's the schedule of events for the District 3 swimming championships at Cumberland Valley. 

Friday, March 3
Noon:
Class 2A girls
2:15 p.m.: Class 2A boys
5 p.m.: Class 3A girls
7:30 p.m.: Class 3A boys

Saturday, March 4
10 a.m.: 
Class 2A girls
12:15 p.m.: Class 2A boys
3 p.m.: Class 3A girls
5:30 p.m.: Class 3A boys

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