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Baldwin swimmers find success during season of rebuilding

Ray Fisher
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Baldwin senior swimmers celebrate senior recognition on Feb. 7, 2019.

Kim Klinger jumped back into the pool and immediately was faced with a somewhat daunting task.

Klinger has been involved in Baldwin swimming in various capacities since 1989. She coached the varsity swimmers until 2004, retired briefly, became an assistant in 2014, and took over as head coach again this season.

The Baldwin swimming and diving program suffered heavy graduation losses in recent years.

“We have been rebuilding this season. It has been one full of many pleasant surprises,” Klinger said. “The swimmers have been dropping times almost every time they dive into the water.”

Baldwin’s program is accentuated by youth, filled mostly by freshmen and sophomores.

“The sophomores and freshmen brought with them a fierce drive to succeed,” Klinger said, “and the upperclassmen have pushed them to reach past their potentials.”

There are only three seniors in the program this year — Katelyn Meyer, Camryn Beveridge and Valerie Marino. Klinger believes they are important components to the rebuilding process.

“We will miss the contributions of our seniors,” Klinger said. ”They’ve helped lead this team to the success it has achieved this season. They’ve instilled the hard-work, laugh-often and never-give-up attitude the team embraces.”

Meyer, Beveridge and Marino were recognized poolside for their contributions at Baldwin’s recent senior rec day.

Meyer, as a four-year varsity and club member, is the most experienced competitor of the three.

“Katelyn is one of our team leaders,” Klinger said. “She has been a huge part of this team over the past four years, and she’s brought the team closer together this season with her leadership.”

Meyer has a 3.6 GPA and plays the snare drum in the marching band. She plans to attend Pitt to major in dental hygiene as a pretrack to dental medicine.

“I’m so proud of my team, and I can honestly say we’ve all come such a long way,” Meyer said. “Everyone has improved so much. That’s one of my favorite things about swimming — every time you finish a race you can improve something, take your stroke this way, breathe that way, and you’re constantly racing against not just your opponent but the clock. It’s a competition with yourself.”

Meyer doesn’t have a single “fondest memory” from her swimming career. She has many.

“I can’t just pick one; that’s so tough,” Meyer said. “Every time I step onto that deck, I create a new favorite memory. But I would have to say (a few favorites are) going to four Snowball Dances with my teammates, and being a part of creating a tradition that will hopefully live on.

“I would like to thank my coaches, teammates, friends and family for always pushing me to keep going and to continue to better myself. Coach Kim is such a role model. She’s constantly looking to see what she can help us improve in, pushing us to go harder during the last set of the night, and motivating us to swim not just for ourselves but our teammates. She really highlights the value of a team.”

Over the years, Meyer has developed a knack for the 100-yard events and has three favorites — 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

“She has been one of our primary butterfliers her entire career,” Klinger said. ”We count on her to swim an event that is very unpopular. She also swims the 100 backstroke and freestyle events with the same drive.

“Katelyn is full of life and brings a positive air to those around her. She can always be heard encouraging her teammates to swim harder. Her contagious laughter will truly be missed.”

Beveridge began her high school days as a freshman soccer player, switching over to swimming as a sophomore. She actually had a lengthy soccer career until then.

“Camryn decided to try something new,” Klinger said. ”We have been so blessed she made that decision. She became one of our breaststrokers. Cam has worked hard this season to become a freestyle sprinter and has succeeded.”

Beveridge is a three-year varsity team member who enjoys competing in the freestyle events and the breaststroke.

“One to always cheer others on not only in meets but at practice, Cam also can be heard speaking words of encouragement to her teammates,” Klinger said. “She might be tiny in statue but she speaks volumes in the pool.”

Beveridge has a 3.87 GPA, and is a member of the Special Olympics Club and stage crew. She also serves as president of the daVincian Society.

“I decided to make the switch to swimming (as a sophomore),” Beveridge said. “I figured it’d be cool to try something different and liked how it was both a solo sport and a team sport.

“I thought the team’s performance this season was phenomenal. While we didn’t win every meet, we still worked our hardest at practice and pushed ourselves to meet our goals.”

Beveridge has enjoyed the 2018-19 season under the direction of Klinger.

“In my opinion, Kim has proven to be one of the best head coaches I’ve ever had,” Beveridge said. “She treats everyone fairly, constantly motivates us to reach our goals, and is always there for us when we need her.”

After graduation, Beveridge plans to study nursing at CCAC.

“I’ll miss being surrounded by my teammates,” she said. “Everyone brought positive energy in and out of the pool, and we just had a blast goofing around with each other.

“On top of that, I think I’ll miss being able to be a role model for the underclassmen as I enjoy giving others advice and helping them when needed.”

Marino is in her first year of varsity swimming.

“Val quietly joined the team but has made a loud splash,” Klinger said. “Her quiet disposition disappears when she cheers on her teammates.”

Marino competes for the Highlanders in her favorite event, the 100 breaststroke.

“Val also swims a fast 50 freestyle,” Klinger said. ”She is a natural. Not to limit herself to just one stroke, Val has consistently dropped her time in all the strokes.”

Marino is a member of the National Honor Society executive board, and participates with the Baldwinaires.

She has a GPA of 4.2 and plans to attend Seton Hill to earn Bachelor and Master of Science degrees. She eventually wants to become a physician’s assistant.

Marino said swimming was something new to her, and she’s glad she jumped in.

“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and try something new my senior year, so I was thinking about doing a sport,” she said. “I mentioned this to my friend Cam. She talked to me about her experience. After hearing how much she enjoyed it and how close-knit the team is, I decided to join.

“I have had a lot of fun this season. I am really impressed with everyone. The team has been constantly working hard to decrease times, and I feel like we’ve grown stronger as a team.

“And I love having Kim as my coach. She welcomed me to the team and knows exactly how to motivate everyone.”

One other student lauded at the senior rec day festivities was Quinn Scharding, who has been a volunteer announcer at the meets for two years.

Scharding was a diving specialist and WPIAL qualifier as a freshman.

Beveridge, meanwhile, offered some words of encouragement for the future of the Baldwin program.

“Remember that you should never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone,” she said. “It turned out to be an amazing experience for me.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.