Girls swimmers win ninth in a row
The Parkland girls swimming team conquered its ninth straight District 11 Championship last weekend in their home pool. Thanks to a good lead coming into the event from a strong performance in the diving portion of the championship, Parkland bested rival Emmaus by a score of 401-385 in the girls competition. The boys team finished second in team standings behind Emmaus by a 401-308.5 score.
In the swimming portion of districts, Zoe Sheridan took gold and a guaranteed spot at states in the 500 freestyle, besting her closest competition by just over four seconds in the event.
“I knew coming in that there was a lot of competition and that it was going to be a close race, but things can always go differently and you can’t count on what the end result will be,” said Sheridan. “I beat my previous best time, so I was happy with that and I’m looking forward to states.”
For Sheridan, and all of the Parkland girls swimmers, their ninth straight district title meant more to them as a group than any of the individual accomplishments.
“It takes the individual performances to get the team championship, so that’s what’s so special, that we can all celebrate, because we all contributed,” said Sheridan. “We’re all really close and we all know about the tradition of Parkland swimming, so it was important to us to keep this going.”
Sheridan also gained an individual entry to states with a second-place finish in the 200 freestyle, where she is seeded 26th. In addition to Sheridan, Megan Sicinski will compete at states in the 100 breaststroke. In diving, Lexi Lehman, the District 11 Champion will be joined by teammate Alexa Brinker, who finished second in the event.
On the boys side, Matt Engler took district gold in the 100 butterfly and James Connolly won gold in the 100 breaststroke to get automatic bids into states. Connolly had hoped to give a strong performance in the 500 freestyle, but finished sixth, with teammate Hyunbin Kim finishing second. His performance in the breaststroke helped to ease some of the disappointment.
“It was definitely great having the support of my teammates from the sidelines, especially after that tough race in the 500,” said Connolly. “It was very difficult, considering that I didn’t do what I expected to do in that event, but this sort of makes up for it. I’ve never been to states before, but I have high hopes, like everybody else.”
Matt Ceh qualified for states in the 100 freestyle to round out the roster of Parkland swimmers headed for Bucknell.
“I think that for our girls, it’s one of the better team victories since I’ve been here. As an assistant and as a head coach, this is year 12 and this is one of the better ones,” said coach Rob Robitaille. “You have to go back a lot of years to find a time when the swimming and diving meant so much. The divers did their part and then our swimmers had to do their part to hang on, that’s why it’s called swimming and diving.
“I think it’s been four or five years since we put the guys up there as winners or in second. This was great, almost every kid had big swims and scored something for us, which is huge. It should build our confidence.”
Robitaille had predicted coming into the season that this would be a difficult season for his team. The boys team has smaller numbers than in years past and Robitaille pointed to the strength of swimming in the Lehigh Valley overall for improving the competition. As it turned out, Robitaille’s prediction was right on target.
“We definitely had some Parkland swims,” he said. “But the Valley is really improving, which is good, because now I have something to point to and say ‘we have to really, really get after it, because these teams are very real.’ We had very good things happen and I’m very proud of our team.”