Apparently, panthers can swim really well. Riverside’s swim team outperformed competition and their own school records at the WPIAL tournaments on Feb. 20 and 21.
Three relays and three individuals qualified for the PIAAs, and four school records were set.
The three relays were the work of the Lady Panthers. The 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle placed third and fourth and automatically advanced to the state competition.
The 200 medley placed fifth, which doesn’t automatically qualify for the PIAA.
“There was no guarantee that any of the relays would get to states, but the girls did not hesitate,” Coach Bill Valli said. “The first event of WPIALS was the girls 200 medley relay. They swam great, breaking our school record by over three seconds but unfortunately they missed the automatic bid by one place. Instead of being disheartened by the results of the medley, they used it as motivation for the rest of the meet and really knocked it out of the park so to speak.”
However, in retrospect, the medley relay was a success. After all district meetings are completed statewide, eight additional teams are selected based on times, and Riverside was one of those teams.
“It is kind of rare that a AA school gets three relays to the state meet,” Valli said. “None of these relay teams were seeded in the top five at WPIALs and to get to the state meet they had to be at their best. Before the WPIAL meet we discussed what events we planned to swim. I mentioned to the girls that the relays had the best shot at getting to states but if they wanted to try all three relays then some individuals would have to sacrifice one of their individual events. I told them that they would have to decide as team what they wanted to do. Within ten seconds they all shouted ‘relays!’ I believe their decision speaks volumes about the kind of kids we have here at Riverside.”
In addition to the relays, three athletes had outstanding individual performances, setting new records and advancing to states.
Diving star Brittany Hart placed second with 460 points. Erica King placed fourth in the 100 yard backstroke and set a new school record with a time of 1:00.34.
For the boys individuals, David Peffer placed second in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:45.5 and third in 100 backstroke, also setting a new school record of 52.51.
The Riverside swim team is now poised to perform at the PIAA tournament, held March 11 through 14 at Bucknell University in Lewisburg. The top 16 for each event will be broadcast on PNC.
Detailed relay information is as follows:
200 medley relay 1:54.1 (new school record) 5th WPIAL
200 freestyle relay 1:41.6 (new school record) 3rd WPIAL
400 freestyle relay 3:44.3 4th WPIAL