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Hornets open swim season with virtual meet

Emmaus opened its swimming and diving season Monday in a tri-meet with Dieruff and Allentown Central Catholic.

Their opponents never showed up, but that will be the norm throughout the season. The EPC has instituted a “virtual meet” policy for the season meaning that each team swims in their own pool, cutting down on the potential for spreading COVID-19.

Dieruff and Emmaus swam their events at the same time on Monday, but Central Catholic was unable to secure a pool to compete in, so the Vikings swam their portion of the meet Tuesday evening. Each team then enters its results into a scoring program and from there they can figure out who won.

In the pool, three Emmaus swimmers were competing and were joined by three others who are swimming in an exhibition meet, meaning that their times do not count toward the meet results. That allows some younger swimmers to gain some added time in the pool.

At Emmaus, another wrinkle is that spectators aren’t allowed so the team uses the bleachers as the team bench, with swimmers socially distanced from each other. The team stays seated in the bleachers with only the swimmers for the next event allowed on the deck. As one group exits after an event, another files down.

“This was the first one, so it was kind of weird,” said Emmaus senior Nick Soares. “It’s definitely not like a normal meet; everybody’s usually cramped onto one bench but now we’re all spread out. I think that over time we’ll get more used to it.”

Soares turned in an impressive performance in the 100-yard backstroke, finishing ahead of his two teammates with a time of :52.14, a full two seconds ahead of fellow senior Connor Shriver, who finished at :54.16. Junior A.J. Lamack put up a time of :57.61. Of course, none of the swimmers could know immediately after the event where they finished overall.

“I was pretty happy with how I did, especially for this being the first meet of the season,” said Soares of his performance in the backstroke. “I think we all have things to improve on, like our underwaters, but I was pretty happy with today.”

In the girls 500-yard freestyle, junior Avery King turned in the top time at 5:31.93, followed by senior Kera Reinhard at 5:33.77 for Emmaus.

Emmaus has several young swimmers on both the boys and girls teams and was able to mix them in throughout the meet. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, eight of the 12 swimmers competing on the three Emmaus teams were either freshmen or sophomores. Freshmen Georgia Magditch and Mandy Barnes teamed with seniors Peyton Rautzhan and Reinhard to produce the top time for Emmaus.

The girls breaststroke event had a freshman and two sophomores competing for Emmaus, with sophomore Hailey Reinhard turning in the top time of 1:14.86. Sophia Iacobelli finished second, just ahead of freshman Magditch.

The boys breaststroke had two sophomores and a junior with freshman Ryan DeJohn leading the way with a time of 1:04.41 and classmate Andrew Taylor just behind him with a time of 1:04.85. Bobby Perose finished third among Emmaus swimmers at 1:05.41.

Overall, Soares believes that while there are still some things to work on, the progress has been good for both the boys and girls teams and he is confident about how the season will play out.

“I think we just have small things to work on and we really have to be there for each other and keep pushing each other to the limits,” said Soares.

Another tri-meet is on the schedule for Friday when Emmaus will again swim in a virtual meet against Whitehall and William Allen High Schools. The schedule has two meets against rival Parkland, with the first coming on Tuesday and the second on February 9 to finish the season.

While having an additional meet against the Trojans is a benefit of the revamped schedule, as of now, both are scheduled to be virtual meets.

PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSON Emmaus's Avery King swam her team's top time in the 500-yard freestyle Monday in a virtual meet against Dieruff and Central Catholic.