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Shaler swim team matches up better in new section

Josh Rizzo
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Swimming pool

Jenna Stanton sees a lot of positives ahead for the Shaler swim team.

While the junior swimmer will miss some aspects of competing in the same section as North Allegheny, the Titans have an opportunity to match up better with conference foes.

Shaler also will see a lot more competition in its own pool. The Titans have 32 athletes — 15 girls and 17 boys — out for the team this year.

“I think it helps the kids,” said Stanton, who has hit the WPIAL qualifying standard. “The freshmen haven’t experienced high school swimming yet. It’s good they are starting with high competition. Some of the kids from last year, we are in a new division. The teams we are going against are more like us. It’s better to be with teams at our talent level.”

Shaler will be joined in Section 3-AAA by Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn Hills, Plum and Woodland Hills.

“I think size-wise, we should be the same with them,” Shaler coach Keith Simmons said. “It will be all about what kids can step up. How we will do depends on if people step up the way we hope they can. It’s about them believing in themselves as much as the coaches do.”

Having a deeper roster allowed Simmons to alter how he practices.

Competition is fostered and encouraged.

“We’ve changed the way we’ve practiced a little bit now,” Simmons said. “We’ve had them race each other in practice every day. All six lanes are being utilized by people looking for a place on this team. I only need 12 boys and 12 girls in every event.”

Stanton has her sights set on breaking the school record in the 100 fly. She has a personal best of 59.49 seconds, a little behind the record of 58.93 set by Emily Schaefer during the 2016-17 season.

Stanton said she didn’t change her workout too much during the offseason.

“I swam all summer, and we started weight lifting during preseason, which is different than last year” Stanton said.

Simmons has been happy with how his freshmen have contributed during scrimmages. Jake Pacasa and Marty Stanton both had strong preseasons.

Lydia Nebiolo and Olivia DiBon also return. They teamed with Stanton to earn WPIAL cuts in the 200 medley and 200 free relay.

Simmons said several swimmers were able to get valuable experience during the summer season. He is hoping the Titans ride that momentum to a strong section season.

“I think it did wonders for the kids who participated,” Simmons said. “I think they understood where they had to be and worked harder throughout the summer. They put a lot better effort into some things.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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