The High Post

Varsity Swimming

Molly Bobik, Staff

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The girls and boys varsity swim teams’ seasons have started off strong with both teams posting a 5-3 record. Made up of freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, with multiple skill levels, the team is lead by head coach Grey Arrigonie, a graduate of Latrobe who has been coaching the team for many years. Alongside Arrigonie is assistant coach Cody Bureau, also a graduate of Latrobe, a four time Paralympian, bronze medalist, and a first year coach.

The varsity swim season runs from the end of November through mid February, but for any swimmer there is never an off season. For some, like freshman Chris Seacrest and Justin Carlson, this is their first taste of competitive swimming. For others, such as senior Rylee Jackson, they have been swimming since kindergarten.

The veterans swimmers on the team participate in Greater Latrobe Aqua Club (GLAC) when they are not training on the varsity team. The club, opened for anyone from kindergarten to twelfth grade, is also lead by Arrigoni. The community team practices and competes year round against different teams in the area. Swimmers on the varsity team, like Jackson, have  swam for GLAC multiple years prior to their high school careers. Over the summer, when swimming for GLAC, high school swimmers start their days at 6:30 in the morning and spend two hours in the pool, while most high schoolers are still in bed.

During varsity swimming, the swimmers dedicate so much time to training. The athletes required to attend after school practices for two and a half to three hours a day, and morning practices on Saturdays beginning at eight, with occasional pre-school practices that begin at 5:50 am and end at 7:10 am. Not only does each session entail constant swimming, but for one hour out of each practice the team hits the weight room for some dryland. Dryland includes anything from lifting to cardio workouts. When the team is lucky, dryland may even include a relaxing day of yoga. Dryland is a necessity for swimmers because they can not rely on the cardio based swim practices alone if they want to reach peak performance. Dryland provides them with the strength and endurance to withstand a race whether it be the 50 yard freestyle or 500 yard freestyle.

While all swim sessions are typically intense for these high school athletes, nothing compares to the practices they endure over Christmas break. Over the span of Christmas week, the swimmers are in the pool at 7:30 in the morning and Arrigonie and Bureau are pushing them to their limits. Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are the only days off in the swimmers’ schedule. Every year right around Christmas, Arrigonie creates a painstaking workout based off of the song The Twelve Days Of Christmas known as The Twelve Days of Grey. This year, the workout included two hours and twenty minutes of straight swimming, including warm up and cool down, a total of nearly three and a half hours of swimming that day. “It was really hard,” said Emily Hoffman, sophomore and first year varsity swimmer, “It kicked all of our butts, but we survived and made it to Christmas Day.”

As the team enters into the thick of the season they will be competing against more schools within the section. “The biggest competition will probably be Hempfield and Penn Trafford,” said Arrigonie. Arrigonie alluded to both teams having strong diving teams and girls swim teams, which is bound to make for an exciting meet.

One of the most obvious obstacles for the team this year is the number of swimmers. With only 17 girls and 8 boys, some teams almost double Latrobe’s size. With the shortage of bodies also comes a lack of depth. “We try to position our swimmers to the best of their abilities,” said Arrigonie. Along with matching the swimmers with the events they succeed in, Arrigonei and Bureau also have to place as many swimmers in each race as possible in order to achieve the maximum amount of points necessary to win.

While the size of the team has been a struggle, Arrigonie recognizes the positives.“I’ve seen a lot of improvements since the first meet,” said Arrigonie. Swimmers, like freshman Hannah Brewer have reached their season best times already, or in many cases have broken their lifetime records and it is only the middle of the season. Brewer came into the season with 100 freestyle time of 1:05 and dropped it to a speedy 1:02.

The swimmers are always pushing to drop even just a millisecond off their times. For some, they’re just seconds away from qualifying for WPIAL, such as the girls 400 yard freestyle relay team. The relay team is composed of seniors Rylee Jackson and Gloria Hickey, junior Joyce Yin, and sophomore Molly Bobik. The girls are only about four seconds off from the qualifying time of 3:56.00 for WPIAL.

Gloria Hickey the girls senior captain has high aspirations for the team. Hickey said, “Some of our team goals are to get as many people to WPIALS as we can. We want to place as much as we can at counties, and try to win as many meets as possible.” Hickey’s personal objective is to encourage her team to reach these goals all while keeping a positive attitude. Hickey said, “I like to try to make it fun.”

As the season progresses, the swim team is guaranteed to have much more success. Whether the successes be as small as one person dropping their time, or as big as the team placing as one of the top teams in the county. Each individual will continue to work towards their own personal goals and team goals while having fun doing it.

Abby Poole, Taylor Miller, Isabella Bearer, and Casey Elder prepare to swim the 200 freestyle relay.

Coaches Grey Arrigonie and Cody Bureau watch as their swimmers race to the finish.

The team cheers on their teammates from the side lines.

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