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Braadt, Slaski compete in D11 Championships

Even without having a high school swimming team, Northwestern Lehigh has produced a state champion in the sport. Maddy Burns, class of 2012, won gold medals at the state level in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard breaststroke. She was also the record holder in the 200 IM with a time of 2:00.48 until that time was beaten in 2014 by Meaghan Raab of Hershey High School. After high school, Burns went on to swim for the University of North Carolina on a full scholarship. At some point down the road, we might be talking about two more Northwestern Lehigh swimmers producing at the state level even without the benefit of having a team.

Freshmen Aidan Braadt and Hunter Slaski competed in the District 11 swimming championships over the weekend with solid results. Braadt finished with a bronze medal in the 200 IM and a seventh-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke. Slaski swam in the 500-yard freestyle and finished fifth.

“I did pretty well,” said Braadt after competing in the IM. “I was hoping for a second-place finish, but I am happy with how it went and where I finished.”

Coming into the event, Braadt was seeded fourth and was able to shave nearly nine seconds off his qualifying time when he finished with a time of 2:09.91. In the breaststroke, Braadt came in seeded 12th among 16 swimmers, but by taking nearly seven seconds off his time, he was able to capture a top ten finish.

Slaski also moved up beyond where he was seeded with a fifth-place finish in the grueling 500-freestyle after coming in with the sixth best time in the event. The freshman shaved over four seconds from his qualifying time and finished Saturday’s event with a time of 5:40.02.

“I was happy with how it went,” Slaski admitted. “It was a lot of fun to be in that environment and I had some nerves, but I was able to get past that and I thought that I swam well.”

Both Braadt and Slaski qualified for districts by swimming as exhibition swimmers with the Allen High School team during their home meets. Appearing as an exhibition swimmer allows the two to set qualifying times toward districts, but their performances do not count for teams points in the meet that they are swimming in with the Allen team.

“We train with PAAC (Parkland Aquatic Club) and compete with them, and their coaches help us, but then for high school meets we are with Allen,” said Slaski. “Overall, it works out well and we can at least get times that count toward districts.”

The arrangement works well overall, but when it comes to districts, the two are competing at the Class 2A level while other members of PAAC and the Allen team are all at the 3A level, leaving the pair alone at the huge event.

“We rely on each other a lot and keep each other going,” said Braadt. “It can be intimidating to come into an event like this where there are so many people. It would be even tougher if we didn’t have each other to hang out with.”

Gold medal winners in districts are guaranteed a spot in the PIAA meet next week at Bucknell University. Other swimmers can receive bids to compete at states based on their times. While it is unlikely that either swimmer will receive a bid, both are hopeful that at some point down the road they will be heading to Bucknell.

“Ultimately that is where I would like to end up, but it’s going to take some time and I have to keep working,” said Slaski. “I think for my first year at districts it was a learning experience and I really enjoyed it.”

“That is definitely a goal,” said Braadt of reaching states at some point. “Maybe as soon as next year.”

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern freshman Aiden Braadt swam to a third-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay at the District 11 Championships last weekend at Parkland High School.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern's Hunter Slaski swam to fifth place in the District 11 Class 2A 500-yard freestyle championship.