East Penn Press

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONSophomore Jack Sharp swims the breaststroke against Stroudsburg. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONSophomore Jack Sharp swims the breaststroke against Stroudsburg.
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONSophomore Lexi Shuryn took first place in butterfly against Stroudsburg. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONSophomore Lexi Shuryn took first place in butterfly against Stroudsburg.

Young swimmers lead EHS

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Emmaus swimming and diving roster consists of 55 student athletes and 32 are freshmen or sophomores, with 20 of that group being freshmen.

With the success of the Emmaus Aquatic Club and the input from some new varsity coaches this season, the younger swimmers are contributing early to the success of the program even as they’re still acclimating themselves to the rigors of Hornet head coach Tim O’Connor’s program.

The young swimmers are really being thrown into two different situations. On the boys side, the presence of seniors like Mikey Brennan, Colby Kocon and Pat McAllister has helped to bring younger swimmers along as the seniors show them how to succeed.

For the girls though, the only seniors are divers and it’s turning out that some of the younger swimmers are starting to push the upperclassmen.

“My younger kids are sprinting 50s [freestyle] and taking two breaths,” said O’Connor. “The older kids, who we’ve been stressing that to, are suddenly saying ‘these younger kids are going and taking only two breaths and they’re still living, maybe I should try that,’ and now, they’re getting better. It’s really an interesting dichotomy, but it’s working.”

Sophomore Lexi Shuryn has opened eyes early. Against Stroudsburg, Shuryn took first in the 100-yard butterfly and was on the third-place team in the 200 freestyle led by junior Maggie Champagne and featuring two freshman swimmers in Abby Barnes and Grace Wiragh. The 400 freestyle relay team features Shuryn with fellow sophomores Liz Gould and Olivia Timmins and freshman Kera Reinhard. They also posted the top time in their event against Stroudsburg.

“I’m trying hard and I believe that if you always give it your best effort, you’re going to get there,” said Shuryn. “I’ve learned from the seniors that if you keep doing the work and show up for practice, it will pay off in the long run.

“I try to lead as much as I can even just by having good habits. Even if they’re upperclassmen, I just try to make sure that we stay happy in practice.”

O’Connor pointed out that freshman Peyton Rautzhan has cut her 50 freestyle time down to 25 seconds and that Bella Buchman has excelled in various events, including butterfly and backstroke. The freshman is also starting to work on swimming in freestyle events as well.

Michael Iacobelli and Nick Soares came into the season having had a lot of success with EMAC and the two freshmen aren’t disappointing with their swims on the varsity team.

O’Connor has also been impressed with Connor Shriver, another freshman.

Sophomore Jack Sharp has taken what he learned in his first season and put it to good use this season as the new assistant coaches stress technique more than has been done in the past.

“Last year we focused just on getting from point-A to point-B as fast as you can,” said Sharp. “But with some new coaches, we’re training differently and looking at how to do your event the easiest way and the best way possible and that’s really helped me.

“Second year is a lot easier than freshman year. That first year, you’re just learning the ropes and learning what you need to do and then this year you really start to enjoy it a little more. I’ve known the team for a long time and have known a lot of these guys since I was pretty young, so I’m able to have a lot more fun this year.”

For the boys, there is leadership and depth, which is helping younger swimmers to learn some early lessons about what it takes to succeed.

Some of the juniors and seniors are able to show that you have to work hard consistently, because the season only gets tougher once districts and states arrive.

What can be success during dual meets, doesn’t always mean success once the postseason gets here.

“Probably one of the best examples of that right now is Colby Kocon, who as a senior, is just swimming with a chip on his shoulder and we needed somebody like that,” said O’Connor. “Mikey Brennan is the same way. When younger kids see older kids doing that, they’re more likely to do things the same way.”