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High School Swimming

Shaler swimmers feel pressure to qualify for WPIALs

Josh Rizzo
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Swimming pool

Chasing WPIAL Class AAA championship qualifying times is a new experience for Shaler freshman Jacob Picasa.

Picasa not locked down necessary marks in the 200 IM or 200 breaststroke, yet, but along with Eddie Sheets, Stephen Adametz and Kevin Chalmers, he helped the Titans 200-yard medley relay hit their mark.

Picasa is one of several young Shaler swimmers providing depth.

“It can be stressful at times,” Picasa said. “We are there to motivate each other and pump each other up, which helps boost our confidence. It helps me believe I can do this and get WPIAL cuts.”

Thus far, Jenna Stanton, who hit a qualifying mark in the 100 fly, is the only Titans swimmer to make an individual cut. Coach Keith Simmons has been focusing on helping the swimmers work more effectively.

Focusing on technique is part of the equation for helping times improve.

“That’s what they are doing,” Simmons said. “They are focusing more on their technique and want to push the back half of their races. We want them to understand how to push for a negative split. For the first 50, they are under the cut time, and they lose a little of that speed on the back half of their race.”

The boys relays have been a strength. Peter Lesnett, Adametz, Sheets and Chalmers qualified in the 400 free. Justin Adametz, Stephen Adametz and Chalmers also qualified in the 200 free relay.

“Everyone’s been real great,” Picasa said. “We do our best to cheer each other on, and when we are in our races and whatnot, we are standing on the end of the pool cheering each other on, boosting each other’s confidence to one another.”

That confidence has appeared in the team’s dual-meet results. The boys and girls teams are off to 5-2 starts.

The Titans, who had a dual with Woodland Hills last Wednesday that ended too late for this edition, swept Blackhawk last Tuesday. Shaler’s boys won 86-74, and the girls picked up an 84-78 decision.

“It’s the most wins we’ve had on both sides,” Simmons said. “They’ve been swimming well enough.”

The Titans know time is running out to reach WPIALs. They have been pushing each other to close the gap.

“The coaches would tell us to race each other on our main sets to build ourselves up to race each other and race the other teams in meets,” Picasa said. “We normally do that kind of thing. I try to go off of if I know something and need to work on it. I need to work on arm rotation and kicking speed.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.