When the swimming and diving season started, Dallastown senior Mary Raucci set a goal to qualify for the YAIAA championships, which take place Friday and Saturday at Central York.

While that's a common goal for many swimmers, Raucci knew she was stretching it.

Swimming records

Take a look at which swimmers own YAIAA, District 3 and PIAA swimming records in GameTimePA.com's local history section.
"That was the whole goal. But I thought it was a long shot. I didn't think it was going to happen."

That's not negativity speaking, but more realism. After all, she didn't know how to swim when she first attended practice with the Wildcats.

That's right. Raucci could not swim.

"I had to pretty much jump in the pool with nose plugs. It was pretty bad," she said after Tuesday's practice, where she was preparing to swim the 100 breaststroke -- as the 22nd seed.

Dallastown coach Rich Howley said he has seen kids who didn't know how to swim come out for the team before, but typically they were freshmen, never a senior. And to make the league championships under such circumstances is incredible.

Raucci has been on the Wildcats' track team and wanted something to do to keep in shape for that. She wanted something different and remembered getting it at her first swim practice.


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"I wasn't prepared for how hard it was. The first day when (Howley) said 20-lap warm-up I thought I was going to die. I thought he was kidding," she said. "Now, it's not super easy, but it's not as big a deal as it was."

While some kids might choose to relax a little in their final year of high school, Raucci said being a senior has made her "so motivated."

She picked up the breaststroke a little quicker than the freestyle, and she could feel the improvement as each week went by.

"We could see it every time she swam the breaststroke," Howley said. "She did all the little things to get where she needed to be."

The YAIAA diving championships for boys and girls get under way at 6 p.m. today. Friday marks the first day of the two-day swimming competition, starting at 6 p.m. Saturday's competition begins at 11 a.m. with all events taking place at the Central York High School natatorium.

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Relay domination: Dover enters the weekend as the top seed in all three relays, Friday's 200 medley and 200 freestyle, plus Saturday's 400 free. You will find the same thing in the boys' competition, where Dallastown also holds the top spot in all three. The Wildcat boys also are the second seed in the 400.

"I remember years we won all three but didn't expect it. I don't think we ever went into the meet with the top three," Eagles coach Rich Janosky said.

Janosky has taken notice to Dallastown's interchangeable parts on the boys' team.

"We have had in years' past some top-caliber swimmers, but his boys -- 18 to 24 of them -- are pretty solid swimmers and are very competitive," he said. "That is what sets that team apart is the depth."

Star-studded event: The girls' 100 free race figures to be a good one, considering the top five seeds. The Dover duo of Aniella Janosky and Nicole Smith will face Courtney Schaefer of Red Lion, Central's Jade Arganbright and top-seeded Alyssa Bixler of Dallastown, the defending champ.

"It is going to be a good event. It's always a fun one, too," Rich Janosky said. "Going to be interesting to see who is tapered and who is not."

Close seeding: The top two seeds in the girls' 100 breast are separated by a mere .10 heading into Saturday's race. Defending champ Bree Link of Dover still holds the top spot with her seed time of 1:12.55, but South Western sophomore Alison Sell (1:12.65) is right with the senior.

The boys' 100 breast is similar, but between three athletes. South Western's Kieran Koehler is the top seed at 1:03.53, followed closely by Nolan Walker of York Suburban (1:03.65) and Koehler's teammate Jordan Grim (1:03.67). It's anybody's race.

Potential records: It will take an amazing swim, but both Janosky and Erin Merkle of York Suburban have seed times within 1.39 seconds of the league record in the 100 butterfly, set in 2005 by Spring Grove's Michele King (57.41). Janosky's entry time of 58.29 is already faster than the current YAIAA meet mark.

Dover's 200 free relay time of 1:41.90 is only 1.82 away from the meet and league record set by Dallastown in 2009. Bixler's 53.20 in the 100 is only .72 away from the meet record.

The Dallastown boys' 200 medley relay seed time is 1.19 off York Suburban's meet mark, set in 2008. Wildcats junior Trevor Hine needs to drop only 1.88 in the 500 free to better the meet and league record set last year by West York's Bradley Strathmeyer.
@stevenavaroli; 771-2060