Parkland Press

Thursday, June 4, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZAnnie Walls in one of several seniors on this year’s Parkland girls swim team. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZAnnie Walls in one of several seniors on this year’s Parkland girls swim team.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZGavin Webb returns for his senior season after earning a District 11 silver medal last winter. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZGavin Webb returns for his senior season after earning a District 11 silver medal last winter.

Swimmers ready for season

Thursday, December 12, 2019 by STEPHEN ALTHOUSE Special to the Press in Sports

The agenda for the 2019-2020 Parkland swimming campaign is one predicated on achieving personal excellence.

“For both teams, we are looking to put ourselves in a position to earn lifetime bests in every event that we swim in the postseason at Last Chance, districts, and states,” said Trojan head coach Robert Robitaille.

Psychological sessions do not happen in swimming pools, but they can impact those who in swim in them.

“Our only challenge will be finding ways to maintain consistency and intensity as winter weather, illnesses, and the stretch of the season come about,” said the coach. “As with all things, our only challenges will be ourselves.”

Assuming they can overcome themselves, the Parkland squad has good talent. Leading the way for the boys are seniors James Zhang and Gavin Webb.

“James is consistent at practice and able to find ways to finish the long sets with speed,” Robitaille said. “Gavin is constantly improving as he only really started to get into competitive swimming his freshman year. There’s a lot that he hasn’t done yet that is around the corner.”

Zhang took second in 200 individual medley at district last season and Webb earned a district silver medal in the 500 freestyle.

‘Steady as it goes is junior diver Logan Choma, who earned a silver medal at districts last winter.

“Logan has been one of the most consistent performers on our team,” Robitaille said. “He continues to grow his skills and we look forward to watching him excel.”

Another diver, senior Kole Cannon, “has been someone that our team has always looked to score at competitive duals and districts. He continues to improve and we see no reason that he will not continue to grow as a diver,” said Robitaille.

The girls team features senior Annie Walls.

“Annie finds ways at practice to finish the difficult sets and uses that ability in meets to find a way to close out races,” the coach said.

Others expected to dive to glory are seniors Alexa Brinker, Lexi Lehman and Katharine Gottwald, who finished first, second and third, respectively, at last year’s District 11 championships. Their never-say-die attitude accompanied by a fierce work ethic equates to Robitaille’s optimism.

“Alexa, Lexi, and Katharine have been top competitors in District 11 for the past three years,” he said. “They are able to accomplish this due to their ability to practice at a high level and compete year-round outside the local area. They are committed young athletes and I’m excited to see what they bring this year to our girls team.”

Parkland also returns three quarters of last year’s District 11 champion girls 400 freestyle relay. Ally Lin, who earned district gold in two events (IM, 500 free) last season, has graduated after anchoring the district title-winning relay team last season. Returning from that foursome are seniors Kira Colarusso and Laurel Krause and sophomore Kayla Johnson.

The Trojan boys and girls teams both finished second to Emmaus at districts last February.

Robitaille believes while swimming is a physical activity, success in it is primarily mental. This hypothesis continues as the basis for his fervency in coaching.

“What motivates me every year is the look on an athlete’s face when they’ve done something that they thought was impossible the minutes before they swam,” said Robitaille. “That and teaching mental toughness. Having mental toughness is a life skill that more young people need to expand on.”