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Girls swimming returning experience

The Whitehall girls swim team will be looking to make another big splash once they jump into the pool this season.

Of the 18 swimmers they have on the roster this year, 13 of those have varsity experience. Moreover, of those 13 returning swimmers, six were district qualifiers. That bodes well for a team that finished 12-4 last season. It marked the eleventh consecutive season they’ve posted a winning record.

All lot of their success has to do with a strong pool of talent, and this year is no different. Head coach Pete Rile has a good range of swimmers in every class from which to draw, and those numbers will benefit them in a season that’s going to fraught with challenges. Still, he likes their position.

“We’re not in bad shape there,” said Rile.

The team will be anchored by seniors Lindsay Solderitch, Emily Thomas, Lexi Bartosh, Briahna Raub and Yasier Herrera.

Solderitch qualified for districts in four events last season, while Bartosh qualified for three, and Thomas qualified for one, the 200 freestyle. Both Herrera and Raub give them a lot more varsity experience, adding to that list of veterans who should help make 2021 another successful season.

They’ll lean on those five as they head in what’s safe to say is uncharted waters. As of now, the team is set to return to practice next week. Their first meet is Jan. 12 against Salisbury. Rile said that they are required to have 10 practices before they begin competing. They’ll need that time to sort out a lot of things since they haven’t really had the ability to hold any type of time trails that will give them an idea of where they are, said Rile.

It’s going to be a new dynamic this season and that’s where he believes his seniors can be most valuable. Usually they form bonds beyond the pool by engaging in spaghetti dinners and other booster-sponsored events, but this season has put those activities on hold. Rile knows the challenge is pulling the kids together and that’s the role where the seniors will take the lead.

Rile said that the senior class shares good qualities and he’s hopeful leadership will rise from this group.

“It’s how do these seniors keep everyone together without physically being together, just keeping them together as a group,” he said.

It’s going to be a compacted season, and he knows the five will have to adjust and help the younger swimmers acclimate to varsity competition.

“They’re going to have to teach them a lot of stuff in a short period of time,” Rile said.

While that’s what they’re facing this season, there’s still another reason for optimism. That’s because seven of their top swimmers from last season have returned.

In addition to the aforementioned seniors, that list includes juniors Rachel Dolan and Lexi Prentice, along with sophomore Neave Doyle. All three were district qualifiers last winter, and they’ll be a strong addition to Whitehall’s lineup as the season gets underway.

He’ll also have additional solid swimmers to plug into races beginning with juniors Sandra Neamah and Grace Urick, as well as sophomores Aolani Febo Agosto, Alexis Quach, Bailey Seibert and Megan Wallitsch.

The incoming freshman include Celeste Garcia, Emily Gruber, Kendra Musselman and Kelly Wallitsch.

Rile said that they may not have a ton of experience, but they represent an eagerness that will be valuable as they look to gain a foothold in their first varsity campaign.

“There’s a lot of willingness to learn,” he said.

He said that he likes that he replaced his graduating class with the incoming freshman class that shows a lot of potential They’ll fit in nicely with his vets as they embark on a new season.

“In terms of team strength, we are pretty solid,” said Rile.

He isn’t sure where everyone will fit since practice was halted before they could sort out who will swim what races. Most of his district qualifiers should gravitate back to the events where they had success, but even that’s still a fluid situation. He knows he has the numbers to enter the girls in all the events, and that’s a big positive as they look to jump back into competition against the Falcons.

Lindsay Solderitch returns to help lead the Whitehall girls this season.