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WHS competes in its half of virtual meet

They ushered in the virtual sports age at Whitehall High School this week as the swimming team completed the first half of their virtual meet against the Trojans on Tuesday.

As groundbreaking as that is in respect to scholastic competition, it still came down to racing against the clock, the overriding principle of any meet virtual or otherwise.

What is odd, however, is that they won’t know the results until Parkland finishes their half of the virtual meet on Saturday. Then the Trojans, as the hosts, will tally the times and the Zephyrs will see how they fared against their conference rivals.

Head coach Pete Rile described the whole affair as “weird.” It began around the same time as most meets from years past. They also swam in their own Natatorium, abiding by the same rules that’s governed scholastic swimming in prior years. However, they performed without the benefit of fans, and with COVID-19 protocols in place throughout the meet, including how they approach the lanes, rendering the whole process as just a bit weird.

While that was the defining word, Rile also noted that it went off without a hitch.

“It ran real smooth,” he said.

He said that all their meets this season will be virtual. Furthermore, the two teams must complete their respective halves within seven days, The Zephyrs also plan a tri-meet next week, so that means all three teams must adhere to the seven-day rule.

As far as the atmosphere, Rile said that the kids were cheering on one another and that lended to some normalcy.

“It was nice,” he said, noting that the kids did their best to lift their teammates up when they churned through the water.

He also said that they had the right attitude.

“They were excited,” said Rile. “It was their first meet and they were eager to go.”

He also believes that they may have qualified a couple of swimmers for districts, targeting freshman Aaron Stinner’s performance in the 200 and 500 freestyle races. Stinner swam 1:54.75 in the 200, and 5:09.80 in the 500. He also thinks Ian Thomas will be on the cusp of a district berth in the 200 Individual Medley. Thomas touched in 2:17.82.

Additionally, they got some solid performances from senior Lindsay Solderitch who won the 100 Breaststroke (1:20.26) as well as the 50 freestyle (28.60). Junior Rachel Dolan was also strong in her events, recording a win in the 200 Individual Medley (2:34.47) and the 100 butterfly (1:09.84).

Emily Thomas took first in two events as well among her teammates, finishing first in the 100 freestyle, and tops in the 200 freestyle.

Rile said that a big difference this year is the number of swimmers qualifying for the district tourney. It was previously capped at 24 swimmers, but now that’s whittled down to 16. He said that could possible lead to a situation where a swimmer’s time could qualify them, but the enforcement of the 16-swimmer limit could mean no postseason.

Rile said that they’re still in the process of getting into shape. That’s going to reflect in their endurance, noting that they’ll be stronger in the shorter swimming events in the early stage of the season.

They’ll now add to their virtual schedule this week with meets against Southern Lehigh and Emmaus.

Press photo by Alan Zuzic Aaron Stinner is hopeful he qualified for the district swim meet.