The swimming state championships are being held today and Friday in Richmond and there are plenty of local swimmers vying for titles.
Strasburg and Central are each sending 11 swimmers to the Class 2 Swimming State Championships, which start at 9 a.m. today. Sherando has seven swimmers in the Class 4 Swimming State Championships, which start at 9 a.m., Friday. Both events are being held at Collegiate School Aquatics Center in Richmond.
“We’re really excited for it,” Strasburg coach Ina Rae Crisman said. “I think since a little past mid-season and definitely once the (Shenandoah) County meet came, it’s like a light bulb has come on and things have just clicked. They’ve been consistently taking off time. They’ve come together as one unit working for a common thread.”
Central coach Steve Shaffer said the thing he is most excited about is the fact that all six of Central’s relay teams advanced to the state meet. He said his team showed a lot of progress from the district meet to the regional meet this season.
“The biggest credit to our team is we were fifth in districts in both boys and girls and we continue to drop time and we continue to swim better and better with every meet,” Shaffer said. “Consequently the boys jumped up from fifth to third against the same group of teams, including Strasburg. And the girls moved up from fifth to fourth team wise. I’m just so happy with how our kids swam and met the challenges.”
Strasburg freshman Abbi Kawatsky will be swimming in the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle. She won the 100 fly regional title on Feb. 2. She also qualified for the state meet in the 50 free and the 200 free. Swimmers can only participate in two individual events and two relays. Kawatsky chose to focus on the 100 fly and the 500 free.
“She chose the 100 fly,” Crisman said. “It’s her favorite. She’s really good in those distance races. She’s a sprinter. She (qualified in the 200 and 500). She’s all over the place. ...Abbi, I think can really do some good things (today).”
Strasburg’s Abigail Davis will also swim in two individual events (200 Individual Medley, 100 breaststroke). The same two the sophomore swam in last year. Davis finished fourth in the 100 breast last year and eighth in the 200 IM.
Strasburg freshman Carson Bauserman will be swimming in the 200 free at the state meet. Strasburg’s Tessa Hockman, Abby Davis, and Kendall Orndorff will also be part of the relays.
On the boys side for Strasburg, freshman Sebastian Keefe will swim in the 200 IM and the 500 free.
“I think his strongest race will be the 500 free,” Crisman said of Keefe. “He’s the one that leads off the 200 medley (relay). So he’ll give them a good start and he’s a freshman. That’s exciting to know that a freshman has qualified individually..”
Strasburg sophomore Donovan Varley will swim in the 100 fly and senior Jack Burr will swim in the 100 backstroke. Strasburg will also swim in the 200 medley relay with a quartet of Keefe, Jack Burr, James Burr, and Tyler Zimbro.
Central will be led at the state swim meet by senior Jeremy Racey. He will be swimming in the 50 free and the 100 free. He also qualified in the 100 back.
Shaffer said that he feels good about what Racey can do at the meet.
“He still hasn’t reached his full potential,” Shaffer said. “So we just don’t know how much he has left in the tank to improve.”
Central senior Roberto Falzarano will swim in the 100 back. Racey, Falzarano, Johnny Morel, Daryen Stanley, and Wyatt Hartke will combine to swim on the three different relays.
For Central’s girls, Carly Boyce (50 free) and Elizabeth Jeffrey (100 fly) will swim in individual events. Boyce, Elizabeth Jeffrey, Anna Jeffrey, Emily Funkhouser, Audrey Johnston, and Emily Bowman will combine to swim in the three relays.
Sherando’s swim team is led by sophomore Emma De Jong, who will swim in the 200 IM and the 100 breast. De Jong won the regional title in the 100 back last weekend but chose to swim in the 200 IM and the 100 breast at states instead. In the Northwestern District Championships two weeks ago, De Jong won the district title in the 200 IM and broke the school record, which had been held by her sister, Megan.
“Emma’s swimming has improved dramatically this year,” Sherando coach Joe Knight said. “She’s stronger and has been training very well as we head into the state championships.”
Sherando junior Jordyn Jones will swim in the 100 back. Sherando qualified all three girls relay teams. De Jong, Jones, Kyra Schultz, Natalee Tusing, and Gracie Twigg will combine to swim in the three relays for the Warriors.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that Emma (De Jong) will be able to break into that elite group of top eight finalists in both of her individual events, and that we can get one or two of our relays into that top group as well,” Knight said. “Just looking at last year’s results, that’s a tall order for us, but our girls are excited. So we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Sherando sophomore Peter Pham will swim in two events individually. He qualified in three and Knight said he will swim in the 50 free and either the 100 free or the 100 fly. Pham’s bother, Mathew, will swim in the 100 breast.