King gets faster for final season at EHS
The Emmaus girls picked up their fourth straight win of the season with a 102-61 win over Allen in their home pool last week.
The score doesn’t indicate how well the team performed because after building an insurmountable lead, coach Tim O’Connor had his swimmers compete in their events as exhibitions so their finishes weren’t calculated into the score. It’s a show of sportsmanship that O’Connor will often use against teams and to challenge some swimmers to perform at high levels and put up strong times in a non-competitive setting.
In the early events, Emmaus relay teams captured the top three spots in the 200-yard medley relay. Katie Champagne, Mya Puentes and Claire Engel swept the top three spots in the 200 freestyle and Abby Heilenman and Laryssa White finished one-two in the 200 IM.
The Emmaus girls also swept the top three spots in the 50 freestyle, the 500 freestyle, the 100 butterfly and the 100 freestyle before O’Connor put the team into exhibition mode.
In diving, Morgan Belisle took first place for Emmaus, with Abby Barnes and Audrey Davidson finishing second and third, respectively.
Senior Reilly King finished second behind teammate Peyton Rautzhan in the 100 butterfly and put up a top time of 1:05.62 in the 100 backstroke against Allen.
King, who has established herself as a team leader for Emmaus, will be attending Siena College to major in secondary education history after graduation. She credits her younger sister, Avery, with helping her become a team leader.
“It’s pretty easy because it’s my sister’s class and I know a lot of them and we’re all friends,” said Reilly King. “A lot of the freshmen are really good friends with seniors and we mix together well.”
The fact that she serves as a swimming coach at Lehigh Country Club during the summer and gives swimming lessons has also helped to develop her leadership skills as she passes along her love for swimming to younger athletes.
Meanwhile, she’s focused on improving her times after what she considers a disappointing junior season in the pool. O’Connor credits her with not giving up and using the slump to refocus her efforts and come back strong as a senior.
“At the end of last year, I think Reilly was disappointed with some things and with some of her performances and to her credit, she didn’t quit and didn’t get a bad attitude,” said O’Connor. “She literally was in the water the next week and working on things. She’s approaching her senior season the way we want all seniors to approach it: that this is their last year and she wants to make the most of it.
“Reilly has been a swimmer, tried and true, for her whole life and truly loves it. The longer the swim she loves it even more. Some kids are fearful of the 500. She wants to go swim a mile and that’s great. We’re putting her out of her comfort zone and trying to get her to swim other events and that’s been the best part, not just with her but with all of our kids, is the continual growth.”
The added work paid off for King and she’s putting up faster times and is happy with both her personal performance and with how the team is performing overall.
“I’m very happy this year and I’m doing much better than I did in my junior year,” Reilly King said. “I’m hoping to keep improving and do really well down the road in college. I think things are going pretty well. Everybody, including our freshman class, is doing really well and we have good balance and we’ve been strong in all the areas.”