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Steve Navaroli: Once again, the fastest four days of the year at state swimming

LEWISBURG >> It's the fastest four days of the year — in more ways than one.

Once again I left my home before 6 a.m. on Wednesday (an unfathomable time for a sports journalist) and arrived at Bucknell University at 8 a.m.. Once again I didn't leave Lewisburg until late Saturday night.

But despite four long days, the time went by quickly, and I found myself arriving back on campus for Saturday's final round wondering, 'Where did those four days go?'

Even the years go by quickly. This came to mind while talking with Red Lion's Courtney Schaefer, who capped a terrific career with a 24th-place finish in the 500 freestyle on Saturday.

Yes, it's cliché to say, but it seemed like yesterday that Schaefer was a freshman sitting in the Bucknell gym with her Lion relay teammates. Now a Division I-bound athlete, Schaefer smiled at the memory.

In this case, fast also applies to the action. These kids fly in the water, especially during the Class AAA portion on Friday and Saturday. In fact, some of the swims are downright incredible, drawing the awe of spectators, coaches and other swimmers.

There is always that one swim that everyone remembers. This year it was Ryan Dudzinski from Upper St. Clair, who opened the AAA 200 medley relay on Friday with a 50-yard backstroke split of 21.32. For those that don't know swimming, trust me, that is astounding. If you know the sport, you can pick your jaw up now.

That medley went on to set a PIAA record, and in the very next event, Upper Dublin's Michael Jensen took a record off the board in the 200 freestyle.

The atmosphere at states is insane, and it's impossible not to get caught up in the excitement. This especially applies during event finals when the disc jockey plays music as the athletes approach the blocks for their championship swims, with the crowd cheering wildly.

It's like the highly competitive two-day District 3 meet, only on steroids. Emotions are high, adrenaline even higher.

Even in years the YAIAA doesn't garner a lot of medals, there is no high school event I would rather cover.

And, it's not like the league was shut out this year, especially in the AA girls' 200 freestyle where York Suburban junior Carson Gross took home a gold medal.

Gross wasn't done there. That same day she teamed with Megan Hunt, Jenna Hufnagle and Madie Devaney for sixth-place medal in the medley relay, and 24 hours later, took seventh in the 500 free.

Devaney, Anna Schmittle, Cara Zortman and Keelie Walker took sixth place in the 200 free relay.

On Thursday, Hunt placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke, and the Trojans girls finished the meet with Hunt, Devaney and Anna Schmittle finishing fourth in the 400 free relay as the Suburban girls ended up third in the team standings.

Only a sophomore, West York's Erica Sarver was on top of her game Wednesday, earning a bronze in the AA girls' diving competition, only .10 from silver.

Competing from a non-swim school, Eastern York's Madison Nalls won a pair of medals, sixth in the 200 free, eighth in the 500.

The Trojan boys were solid as well with a fifth-place team finish. Aidan Fryar, Matt Spinello, Diego Herrera and Karl Schmittle ended the AA meet with a bronze medal. A day earlier, Spinello took home a silver medal in the 100 butterfly and in the next race that foursome was third in the 200 free.

In AAA, Dallastown's Spencer Hill won an eighth-place medal in the 100 butterfly and was on the Wildcats 200 free relay, combining with Jake Stoner, Logan Brockway and Noah Brockway to place fifth.

The thing to remember is that District 3 is so fast in AAA that it takes every effort for kids to qualify for the state meet. Getting there is an unbelievable accomplishment.

This year, several YAIAA athletes got there. That was enough to make four days fly by.

Steve Navaroli covers swimming for Reach him at 771-2060, @stevenavaroli on Twitter,