East Penn Press

Friday, February 15, 2019

Girls seniors lead vs. ACC

Thursday, February 7, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Emmaus girls swimming and diving team beat Central Catholic and then won a quad-meet against Pocono Mountain East, Pocono Mountain West and East Stroudsburg South this past Saturday. The wins have the Hornets at 10-1 overall and 10-0 in the EPC this season.

Rival Parkland, who Emmaus swims against next Thursday, is at 8-1 overall and 8-0 in the EPC, while Easton (8-1, 7-1) and Liberty (9-2, 7-2) are following Emmaus and Parkland.

Against Central Catholic, the seniors were saluted on Senior Night and they showed off in the pool with some big performances. Reilly King took a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle and finished second in the 100 freestyle. Chelsea Gravereaux won the 100 butterfly event and Abby Heilenman took the 100 freestyle and Katie Champagne won the 50 freestyle event. Maggie Champagne finished second in the 500 freestyle to teammate Kera Reinhard and just ahead of another teammate, Peyton Rautzhan as Emmaus swept the top three spots in the event. Emmaus also swept the 200 freestyle with Heilenman and King taking the top two spots followed by freshman Laryssa White.

For Heilenman, her growth in the pool has even caught her by surprise. She joined the team expecting to have fun and compete, but not necessarily become one of the team’s top swimmers.

“I came in and was just thinking ‘I’m here to swim’ and I didn’t realize how much potential I had,” admitted Heilenman. “Then, working with the coaches and with the other swimmers, I started to realize that I could be better at this than I thought and I really started to commit to training and getting here for morning practice and it’s been great.

“I’ve been swimming with the team for four years now and when we first came in, we were all just little freshmen and now we’re seniors; it’s crazy. It’s incredible to look back and realize that we’re almost done.”

Little did she or other swimmers in her class know, but that group that is now moving closer to graduation was somewhat of a turning point for the program at Emmaus.

“This senior class has really gotten us to where we want to be in getting kids committed to this process,” said coach Tim O’Connor. “In the past we had a lot of kids who were here to have fun and compete, but not always at the highest levels. Abby and the kids like her showed kids that you can have really high GPAs and still get their training done in the pool.”

“Abby has been successful in pretty much every event, but last year she found her niche helping us in relays and becoming a really good freestyler. She became so good at the freestyle events because she worked all of the other events and then it was easy to show her where she was going to be swimming to her strength.”

There are two more huge senior events on the way for this class. First up is the annual rivalry meet against Parkland, which will be at Parkland High School on February 14. After that is districts on March 1-2. Heilenman and the rest of the seniors are looking forward to closing out their high school careers with those two events and possibly a trip to states later in March.

“You never know what’s going to happen at districts,” said Heilenman. “When the younger swimmers ask what it’s like, I tell them how crazy it is and that you have to give your best. You don’t want to look back and think that you didn’t compete as hard as you could and I can do that. I can look back and feel good about how I competed.”