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James Buchanan swim team is small but mighty

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The James Buchanan swim team knows that winning dual meets likely isn't in the cards due to its small size.

But that's not stopping some of their top swimmers from looking forward to the postseason as five Rockets are working towards podium finishes at districts, sights set on an appearance at the state meet.

With two dual meets left in the regular season, the Lady Rockets' 200 medley relay remains undefeated, and its swimmers -- Annabelle McCullough, Rachel and Sarah Kimmel and Annaleisse Hissong -- are progressing through the season at a lightning pace, setting the bar high with a record-breaking performance in the very first meet of the season.

"The kids are working really, really hard to get to states," James Buchanan coach Lori McCullough said. "Our girls 200 medley relay team is really tight right now. They come to absolutely every practice, and they are very enthusiastic. I think as long as we can keep them highly motivated and keep them healthy, they are going to have a really good shot at districts."

On the boys side, junior Nick Garbinski is putting up his district numbers from last season midway though the year, working for a chance to compete in the state competition after falling just three one-hundredths of a second short in his 50 free in 2016. With a chip on his shoulder from last year's shortcomings, and the added motivation going head-to-head against some of the top competition in the district, Garbinski hopes to make it to states in the 50 and 100 freestyle races.

Garbinski said, "(Tuesday against Shippensburg) I swam against Sam (Nonemaker), and last meet I swam the lead off leg (of the boys 400 free relay) against the district champion in the 100 free. So all the time you go up against kids who are going to be winning state meets, and it's definitely extra motivation for me."

The girls 200 medley relay set a new school record against East Pennsboro in December, finishing in 1:55.88, nearly four seconds faster than the previous James Buchanan record. In addition Annabelle McCullough and Rachel Kimmel have each broken school records in the 100 fly (1:00.86) and the 100 breaststroke (1:07.86), respectively.

But Tuesday in a dual meet against Shippensburg, Kimmel broke the 100 breaststroke record once again, coming in with a district qualifying time of 1:07.73. She is ranked 14th in the state for the girls 100 breaststroke, while McCullough is 37th in the 100 butterfly.

Garbinski is also ranked 30th in the state for the 50 freestyle (22.15).

"James Buchanan brought it today," Shippensburg coach Jeff Kaminski said after a Mid Penn Colonial Division sweep of the Rockets on Tuesday, "and despite their numbers being lower, the kids that they have put forth some outstanding effort, and the few that they have are very dangerous and they are very strong. It's fun watching them swim and it put us on our heels a bit, not from fear or intimidation, but respect for the effort."

"We are small, so we really shifted our goals from winning meets to winning events and improving ourselves personally," Annabelle McCullough said. "And even though we still have an emphasis on the team and the work we put in, we are not trying to rack up the wins, we are trying to rack up the personal bests."