Plum swimmers eye more record-breaking efforts this season
Plum swimmers altered the school record board in the high school natatorium four times over the past two seasons, and there is optimism among the Mustangs coaches and competitors that there will be more changes to the lists this year.
School-record swims are just part of what is fueling the Plum teams as they enter the season.
No one from last year’s squads graduated, and coach Shawn Haupt said he’s looking forward to seeing how each returning swimmer improves and how the newcomers settle into varsity competition.
“We definitely have some big goals this year,” Haupt said.
Senior Devan Taylor, who recently finalized her decision to swim at Division I James Madison, hopes to make her final Plum season her best.
She is the school record holder in both the 100-yard breaststroke (1:04.13) and 200 individual medley (2:09.64) — she set both last season — and she eyes a return to the PIAA championships at Bucknell University to improve on last year’s eighth-place medal in the 100 breast.
“Devan took a small break, a little step back, over the summer to clear her head,” Haupt said. “She stayed in shape, and she came in more excited than ever and really ready to work. I saw a different athlete. She is a great leader who pushes others to get to another level.”
Taylor also swam at states in the 200 IM last year and took 22 nd .
The 200 free relay earned a seventh-place medal in a school-record time of 1:49.32 at WPIALs. The previous top mark had stood since 1992.
Three of the four swimmers are back in Taylor, senior Alexis Smith and junior Delanee White.
“It is so magical when everyone has great swims and you can put them all together,” White said. “You have the satisfaction of getting your own times, but whenever it’s for a team accomplishment, it’s that much more special.”
Missing states last year, Haupt said, has made the relay even hungrier.
“They’ve been talking about that a lot,” Haupt said. “Devan wants to take a relay with her to states. They are all going to be pushing each other every day with that goal in mind.”
Freshman Elizabeth Glasspool is expected to join the medley relay in its search for a top finish at WPIALs, a spot at states and its quest to lower its school-record time.
Haupt also feels Glasspool can surpass the school record of 59.29 in the 100 butterfly.
“The fly will really be secured in the relay,” Haupt said. “She’s such a hard worker. She’s very dedicated and a great teammate. She fit in perfectly from Day 1.”
Justin Decheck, a Gannon recruit, returns after placing 11 th in the 100 fly (52.26) and 12 th in the 100 back (53.25) at last year’s WPIAL meet.
He is on the record board as a member of the boys 200 medley relay that established an all-time mark of 1:39.20 in 2017. Haupt said Decheck is a serious candidate to challenge the individual records in both the backstroke (51.49) and the butterfly (51.77), and the 50 free (21.56) is attainable.
“If you timed him in practice right now, he would come close,” Haupt said. “The thing with Justin is he needs to understand he can do it. He just has to relax in a meet and let it happen because he practices like no one else. He deserves to be on the board (individually).”
White, a member of the Plum slow-pitch softball team which captured its second straight league title earlier this month, hopes to make it back to WPIALs in the 100 back and 200 IM.
“Delanee has made strides every year,” Haupt said. “She keeps chipping away. They dropped the WPIAL-qualifying time in the 100 back by almost a second. It was the biggest (percentage) drop of all the swims. She takes that personally and puts a chip on her shoulder to go out and get it again.”
Junior Cara Gettings made her WPIAL debut last season in both the 200 free and 500 free. Her best finish was 21 st in the 500 free (5:21.65).
A week after WPIALs, Gettings captured a YMCA district championship in the 500 and advanced to states.
Relay-only WPIAL competitors from last year who hope to post individual qualifying times this year include juniors Molly Giles and Abigail Glasspool on the girls side and seniors Justin Rowe and Noah Schollaert, junior Joey Decheck and sophomores Aaron Frederick, Jordan Rogers and Evan Smith on the boys side.
“Everyone is making strides in their own way, Haupt said. “It should be a fun season watching what everyone can accomplish.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at [email protected] or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.