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Swimmers shine at district meet

“It was a very proud day for Whitehall,” said Zephyr swimming coach Pete Rile whose swimmers garnered four individual medals, five school records, and an abundance of personal best times at the District XI Class 3A Swimming Championships on March 3 and 4 at Parkland High School.

Juniors Aaron Stinner and Ian Thomas were Whitehall’s top winners: Stinner captured the silver medal in the 200 freestyle and the bronze medal in the 500 free, and Thomas took home bronze medals in the 50 free and the 100 breaststroke.

“I’ll tell you what, we’re proud of everything today because we got some medals, but the group in general broke five school records and set four,” Coach Rile said. “In terms of everybody swimming, the girls weren’t in medal contention, but everyone with the exception of one or two times dropped phenomenally. They were outstanding.

“Boys, across the board, everybody was going down, so we just about met every goal we could possibly meet. The good news is, for the boys, everybody’s back next year, so I’m hoping today and yesterday makes them hungrier, makes them ready to work, start getting ready soon.”

Stinner was the first to medal on day one of the district meet, coming in second place in the 200 free with a time of 1:44.53.

“I’m very excited. My coaches believe that this year I should make it to states with that time,” Stinner said. “That means everything to me because, especially after last year just missing it, if I do make it, I’ll be so grateful.”

Nazareth’s Ethan Coffman took first place with a time of 1:42.37.

“I’m gonna be honest with this race...It was just one of those races where I had to push through. I knew from the beginning it was gonna be like that, and I’m very happy I got a best time,” Stinner said. “My strategy for my 200 is go first 50 into control, second 50 build, third 50 attack, fourth 50 race. And instead of controlling for the first 50, I felt like I was battling the waves. I know Ethan and that he has a different strategy where he doesn’t go out as fast. I expected it, but that’s not me, so I stuck to my strategy.”

Also on day one, Thomas placed third in the 50 free with a time of 21.85.

“I was seeded fourth, so I definitely wanted to drop some time, but when it comes to the 50, around that 22-21 range, it gets really hard, so from first to eighth place, it was a difference of like seven-tenths or seven-hundredths of a second,” Thomas said. “It was probably one of my more dreaded days because I was pretty nervous about the 50. It came down to me not breathing, so behind the block, I took a few deep breaths, and I was able to not breathe until the second lap.”

Thomas, Stinner, Gabe O’Brien, and Andrew Deutsch just missed medaling in the 200 free relay, placing fifth with a time of 1:32.95.

On day two of the district meet, Thomas collected another bronze medal, this one for the 100 breaststroke.

“It’s good. I’m happy I was able to come out with two medals,” he said. “I was nervous on that one too because Carter (Mui, Pocono Mountain West) and Malcolm (Collins, Liberty) were going pretty fast during the regular season, so I was looking to bettering myself.”

Also on day two, Stinner earned the bronze medal in the 500 free with a time of 4:45.29.

“I didn’t want to burn myself out, but I thought I swam it well, it was a personal best, and I was happy with it,” he said. “I do a set of pace work that helps me hammer down my pace, and I think it paid off. I really felt good in this race. That was the goal going into the season, and I’m proud to have achieved it.”

Kenny Dai, Alex Madden, and Gary Marrucci also competed at districts on the Zephyrs’ relay teams.

Whitehall senior Neave Doyle and freshman Kyra Giedl competed in individual events and relays for the Zephyr girls along with Kelly Wallitsch, Alexis Quach, Megan Wallitsch, and Ryann Giedl, who swam relays.

The PIAA Class 3A Swimming and Diving Championships are scheduled for March 16-18 at Bucknell University where Stinner will represent Whitehall in the 200 free and the 500 free.

Press photo by Katie McDonald Whitehall swimmers Ian Thomas and Aaron Stinner were double event medalists at the District XI Class 3A Swimming Championships on March 3 and 4.