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EHS girls swim team falls to Parkland

The Emmaus girls swimming and diving team suffered its first and only loss of the season last week when it lost to Parkland by a 112-73 score. The loss leaves Emmaus at 6-1 on the season as the Hornets head into their final meet of the season, a rematch against the Lady Trojans.

The meet isn’t just for bragging rights between the two rival teams, but will go a long way in determining which swimmers will qualify for districts, where only the top eight individuals in each event and the top eight relay teams in each event will qualify.

Hornet head coach Tim O’Connor knew he had a very young girls team coming into the season. He also knew that it was very talented and would show development throughout the year and his early impressions have proved to be correct.

The season has been unusual because of restrictions brought on by COVID, not the least of which is that all East Penn Conference meets have been held virtually, with each team swimming in its own pool and then the times being combined to determine the finishes and the result of the meet.

“The season is going fast, and our kids are persevering,” said O’Connor of the revamped season. “With the last week of the regular season upon us with our wrap up meet against Parkland on Wednesday, we are really looking forward to seeing who qualifies for districts.”

Seniors Bella Buchman, Peyton Rautzhan and Kera Reinhard have delivered as expected coming into the season and juniors Avery King, Mya Puentes, Lauren Sharp and Chloe Vlaeminck along with junior diver Morgan Belisle have also contributed to the team throughout the season.

Against Parkland, Buchman, Puentes, Rautzhan and Sharp combined to take the 200-yard medley relay, while Buchman also picked up a win in the 100-yard backstroke and Puentes won the 100-yard butterfly event. Belisle finished third against one of the tougher diving squads in the area.

“We’ve really worked hard to get better and we’re looking forward to meeting Parkland again,” said Puentes. “The seniors have been setting the example and everyone is contributing and working to get better. We’ve shown a lot of progress from early in the season and looking forward to the Parkland meet and then districts.”

Normally, Emmaus and Parkland would only meet once during the season and it would generally decide the conference champion for both the boys and girls. With teams not swimming against schools from outside their county, this year’s EPC schedule was filled with duplicate meets against the schools geographically closest to them. Of course, in a normal season, fans would have filled the bleachers, but this season, only teammates not currently swimming or in the next event fill the seats.

“It’s been weird, and you really have to get yourself psyched up for the meets because it can almost feel like a practice sometimes,” said Puentes. “The Parkland meet was still big for us because they’re our rival, but I think that meet was when we really noticed how weird it was that our parents and everybody couldn’t be there. We were still psyched though.”

While O’Connor is expecting most, if not all of his juniors and seniors to qualify for districts, he also has high hopes that some of the younger swimmers will be among the top eight to qualify for districts, giving them the experience of swimming against the best from around District 11.

“We’ve got some youngsters with a real shot at going to districts,” said O’Connor. “We’ve been really impressed with how they’ve responded and how they’ve learned and grown every day in practice, and they’ll give us a good base to build upon post COVID.”

O’Connor pointed out sophomores Morgan Gould, Hailey Reinhard and Cat Sirignano along with freshman swimmers Georgia Magditch and Izzy Sparaco as having legitimate shots at qualifying for districts.

As with the regular season, fans will not be allowed to attend districts. The diving event will be held February 27 at Emmaus, with the 3A swimming event to be held on March 6 at Parkland. Fans will be able to follow along online with both Emmaus and Parkland providing livestreaming of the district meets.