Iacobelli goes 4-for-4
Among teammates and coaches, Michael Iacobelli is known better by his nickname than by his given name.
As a freshman, a coach with the Emmaus Aquatic Club was talking to Iacobelli and noted that it was difficult to pronounce Iacobelli. The coach, knowing that he – and likely others - would constantly mess up the pronunciation came up with the nickname of Taco. Iacobelli took to it and his freshmen teammates made sure that it stuck.
To reinforce the nickname, Iacobelli kept a jar of taco sauce in his locker for that entire freshman year. To this day, teammates and coaches alike all know of Iacobelli’s accomplishments, but most don’t even attempt to pronounce his last name, preferring instead to call him ‘Taco.’
Fast forward to his senior season and Taco is making yet another trip to states as a member of the Emmaus swimming team. Iacobelli won district gold in the 200 yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke in addition to being a part of the 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard freestyle relay teams that also won gold at the District 11 meet earlier this month.
The win in the IM gave him a gold medal in the event for each year of high school, a rarity to be sure.
The idea of going for a fourth gold in the IM forced Iacobelli to face a difficult decision. Even though he was the three-time defending champion in the event, he was seeded fourth for districts. An easier road might have been to choose swimming in the 100-yard butterfly where he would have been the top seed.
Even though it may have been easier, the lure of winning gold in an event for the fourth straight year was calling.
“It was a tough decision,” said Iacobelli. “Between my coaches, my parents and myself we all talked about it. I knew if I swam [the IM] I would have a shot at winning the fourth straight and I was confident that I could do it.”
The discussions continued and eventually, Iacobelli made the choice to take what appeared to be the harder road.
He passed on being the top-seed at districts in the 100 butterfly and went for a fourth straight gold medal as the number-four seed in the IM.
“I just decided that I really want this and I’m going to go for it,” said Iacobelli. “I wasn’t going to let anyone take that from me and I really just tried my hardest to take that back.”
The decision turned out to be the right one as Iacobelli not only picked up his fourth gold medal in the IM but did it in an impressive fashion, winning by nearly five seconds over second-place finisher Andrew Wendling from Southern Lehigh. District gold in the butterfly went to Liberty’s Patrick Gilhool, who swam an impressive :50.58 with Emmaus swimmers Ethan Ferris and Nick Soares taking second and third, respectively.
“I was confident in my decision and just decided that winning that fourth gold medal in one event was what I wanted to go for,” said Iacobelli. “It turned out well and I’m getting to go to states again as a gold medalist.”
The state swimming championships are this weekend at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg and Emmaus will be well represented throughout the event.