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EHS girls swim team has mix of youth and experience

Looking to repeat as District 11 champions in the 2019-20 season, the girls swimming and diving team at Emmaus put on a good show but finished second to Parkland in districts.

This year’s Hornet team has had to battle through the coronavirus pandemic that started at the very end of last season. Class 3A schools such as Emmaus saw their season end before the finals on day-two of the four-day PIAA championship at Bucknell University.

This year’s team has a different look. It’s a good mixture of younger swimmers who are worth watching develop and a good core group of upperclassmen to keep the team hoping for gold medals again at districts.

The older swimmers have played an important leadership role for the team as they navigated through changes in practices and the delayed start of the season due to the pandemic. While it’s been difficult, coach Tim O’Connor has been able to find a silver lining in the process.

“We’ve split our practices in half, but what is happened is that we’ve been able to have higher quality practices,” O’Connor said. “It’s a matter of quality over the length of the practices and we’ve been able to show swimmers and their parents that kids don’t have to burn themselves out on practices if they truly focus during the time that they have.

“We might consider continuing this even after the pandemic because it’s really been effective for us. It’s all in having a good focus on the details.”

The roster has five seniors – Bella Buchman, Claire Engel, Sarah Mazzetti, Peyton Rautzhan and Kera Reinhard – six juniors, eight sophomores and 10 freshmen. Buchman and Rautzhan teamed with juniors Mya Puentes and Lauren Sharp on the 200-yard medley relay team that won gold at districts.

Rautzhan took district gold in the 50-yard freestyle with Puentes finishing second and Sharp and Chloe Vlaeminck finished one-two respectively in the 200-yard IM.

Reinhard found herself being plugged into various events last season to fill gaps on the roster. This season that role will change.

“Kera really did well and did anything that we asked of her last season and swam anywhere we needed someone to fill in for us,” O’Connor noted. “This season, we have the luxury of allowing her to specialize in one area and I really think that’s going to help her.

“We have Peyton as a sprinter and Bella focusing on the fly and back events, so we’re in good shape with those three. We have sophomores like Morgan Gould, Hailey Reinhard and Cat Sirigano who have really put in a lot of work and will play roles with the team this season.”

Sirigano was unable to compete most of last season because of a knee injury but did get into the final meet of the season and used that one opportunity to post a district qualifying time in the 200-yard freestyle.

In diving, Morgan Belisle took a leap forward last season and looks to do the same this season as a junior. Sophomores Chelsea Franks, Gabby Gurrieri and Molly Connor, along with freshman Keira Gilboy round out the girls diving team.

O’Connor is excited about the large group of freshman and sophomore swimmers on the team and thinks that they will have opportunities to impress during the season and provide a strong base for keeping the Emmaus girls competitive over the next few seasons.

The East Penn Conference season was delayed and condensed this season as a coronavirus precaution. The Hornets will swim dual meets against only Lehigh Country schools. They open the season with two in a row against Dieruff, then follow that with a pair of meets each against Allen, Central Catholic and rival Parkland (Feb. 16 in Orefield and 18 at Emmaus) to finish out the season.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Emmaus senior Bella Buchman is one of four swimmers who return from a relay team that won a District 11 gold medal last season.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Senior Mya Puentes was part of the Hornets' district championship 200-yard medley relay last winter.