New coach looks to push Hampton swimming forward
The Hampton swim team has a new coach but plenty of familiar faces to greet her coming into her inaugural season.
Morgan Zweygardt, a South Dakota native and Duquesne alum, worked with the Hampton Dolphins club team upon her arrival back in Pittsburgh, and now takes the reins of teams that return plenty of major contributors with experience in WPIAL and PIAA competition.
The most noteworthy isn’t a swimmer at all. Junior Adrienne White has been making big noise — and small splashes — off the diving board since her freshman year. Fresh off a second-place finish at WPIALs and third place at the state meet, all that’s left to add to the trophy case is gold.
“She’s just looking to keep going,” Zweygardt said. “Just a fantastic diver. I think everyone in the area knows she’s very good and a force to be reckoned with.”
Zweygardt also is excited about what looks to be a strong relay team, three returning WPIAL qualifiers and an up-and-coming freshman.
Claire Flanagan is coming off a fine junior season, finishing 12th at states in the 100 backstroke. She is drawing interest from several Division I schools, including Duquesne and Boston University.
Sophomores Lia Appel and Morgan Stormer are returning WPIAL qualifiers who hope to turn the corner at states this year.
“Morgan just grabs so much water,” she said of the freestyle swimmer, who will focus primarily on shorter distances of 50 and 100. “If we were really to focus her training in the 200 or 500 (freestyle), she could do great, as well.”
Appel, whom Zweygardt calls “one of the most talented swimmers I’ve ever seen,” will see plenty of time in the fly this year, but her greatest attribute may be her versatility.
“She would tell you different, but she does not have a weak stroke. It’s just finding where we need her and plugging her in. … If she were to really buckle down and just train, she would be phenomenal.”
While Appel and Stormer impressed as freshmen last season, the new kid on the block is Rosie Oh, and the breaststroke specialist is making her presence felt in individuals as well as on the top relay team, along with Flanagan, Appel and Stormer.
On the boys side, junior Brett Scheib hopes to make another push at the PIAA meet, and his freshman brother Drew hopes to replace a departed senior who found major success at that level.
“He’s such a hard worker,” Zweygardt said of Brett, who made states in the 500 freestyle last season and has qualified for WPIALs in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.
“He’s a racer, that’s the best thing about him. Put him against anyone, someone that’s 10 seconds faster, and he will try to chase them down.”
In addition to the 100 fly, Drew will try to fill the void of the graduated Matt Ramsey, who had a storied freestyle career at Hampton, winning WPIAL championships in the 50 and 100.
“In the years to come he’s going to be one of the big players in the Hampton swim team, on our relays and the 50 and 100 (freestyle) and 100 fly,” Zweygardt said of Drew Scheib. “He’s not as fast as Matt, maybe not this year … but he’s definitely going to get there.”
Another who might have arrived already is junior Jack Lindquist, another returning WPIAL qualifier, who has made strides. After a season-best of 57:5 seconds in the 100 fly last season, his first time in the opening meet against Penn Hills last week was 55.7 — a dramatic improvement and enough for a WPIAL qualification.
Senior Alex Appel, who nearly made states in diving last year, finishing ninth at the WPIAL meet, will comprise an important part of the relay teams as the boys make the jump in class from AA to AAA.
“It’s going to be an adjustment,” the coach said. “I think Hampton is one of the smallest triple-A schools. There’s much larger schools with more students to pull from, but I think we have some really good kids that are willing to learn and work hard.”
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.