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Mercury All-Area POY: Glinecke embraced role as veteran leader

Up to this point, Pottsgrove senior Emily Glinecke has lived her life by a simple quote.

“‘Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn,’” Glinecke recited with a smile. “It’s in my Twitter bio and it’s a bit corny, but it’s meant a lot to me during my swimming career.

“For me, it relates to swimming in a lot of ways. In swimming, when you feel like giving up in practice or a race, that’s the time to push through. When things get tough, that’s the time to bring out your best.”

What better way to sum up her senior year at Pottsgrove High School.

Pottsgrove senior Emily Glinecke was named The Mercury's All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive season. (John Strickler - DFM)

Pottsgrove senior Emily Glinecke was named The Mercury’s All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive season. (John Strickler – DFM)

Prior to Glinecke’s final season with the Falcons, head coach Karen Youtzy decided it was time to step away. During that same time, Glinecke’s club head coach — Boyertown YMCA Navy Seals’ Linda Jones — announced her retirement.

In a short matter of months, still at that time undecided where she’d spend her collegiate career, Glinecke suddenly found herself without two head coaches going into her most important season.

“That was such a stressful time,” said Glinecke, an Arizona State commit. “I learned a lot from both of them (Youtzy and Jones), so I wasn’t sure how this season would turn out, to be honest.”

Through all the adjustments and the changes, Glinecke still ended the season right where she had the season before — on the medal podium at Bucknell University at the conclusion of the PIAA-AA Championships.

For the adjustments she made in the water this past season and the success she saw by the end, Glinecke has been named The Mercury’s 2015-2016 All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive season. Prior to Glinecke, Phoenixville’s Maddie Cooke was named the Swimmer of the Year at the conclusion of the 2013-2014 season.

“It’s an honor for me to win this two years in a row,” she said. “For me it was a huge surprise. There are some really good swimmers in the PAC-10 — Maddie Cooke, Emily Sykes, Kirsten Siwy — it’s an honor to be picked out of all of them.”

Immediately after transferring from the Hill School, Glinecke made a splash in her debut with Pottsgrove as a junior last season. By the end of the year, she was riding home from states with a pair of silver medals dangling around her neck.

In the matter of a single season, Glinecke’s role with the Falcons quickly went from the new kid on the block to the big name on campus. With a new head coach — former Pottstown head coach Alex Diehl — Glinecke knew she would have to do more than just lead by her actions in the water.

“I think that was one of the biggest challenges I faced throughout my career,” said Glinecke. “Suddenly I had teammates looking up to me and trying to learn from me. It was definitely an adjustment.”

After being named a senior captain, along with standout teammate Kevin Basch, Glinecke had to find new ways to channel her leadership qualities.

“We started to work more with the less experienced swimmers,” she said. “If that meant staying after practice and dedicating more time for the team, that’s what we did. As captains, that was our role.”

The result? Historic.

Pottsgrove sent a school-record six swimmers to the PIAA-AAA Championships. And that came in no small part to Glinecke.

“Emily made my transition here (to Pottsgrove) so much easier,” said Diehl. “She and Kevin put the team above themselves. They both spent a lot of time with the younger swimmers and helped them to work on their strokes and turns.

“Having Kevin and Emily here with the team meant so much. They went above and beyond for their teammates. That went a long way for our entire team.”

That leadership role also went a long way for Glinecke individually.

“It made me start to look forward to practices everyday,” she said with a laugh. “We weren’t just seeing ourselves individually getting better as the season went on, but we were also seeing the team improve. That was really cool to be a part of.”

When it came time for the PIAA-AA Championships last month, Glinecke and Basch traveled to Bucknell along with junior Mike Prior as the team’s only experienced state-level swimmers.

Having that experience of taking the blocks on the biggest level and hitting the water at Kinney Natatorium, Glinecke admits how much changed over the course of a single season.

Only this time, she was on the opposite end than she had been the year prior.

“I remember my first time at states,” she recalled of her junior season. “I was the one asking everyone a million questions and really freaking out. This time, I was on the other end. I was the one trying to keep my teammates calm.”

“Anybody who goes to states for the first time — their heads are spinning once they get there,” said Diehl. “That was where Emily and Kevin came in. The two of them helped their teammates to adjust and pulled them back to reality.”

Glinecke’s personal improvements were capped by her showing in the her second and final try at the state meet this season. The senior captured another silver medal in the 100 breast, cutting nearly half-a-second off her time as a junior and touching the wall at 1:03.04. Her time was just .07 behind Fairview’s Abby German for the gold. Glinecke then signed off on her high school career with a bronze finish in the 200 free, where she posted a 1:51.81.

Though her times weren’t quite as low as she had hoped for, she admits she’ll have plenty more to shoot for over the next four seasons.

“At first, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t cut much time this year at states,” she said. “But once I stepped away and looked back, it just gives me something to aim for in college. That’s gonna make me want to push myself that much harder.”

Now as the waves settle on her high school career, there’s no telling where the tide will take her over the next four seasons.

If the previous four years are any indication, she’ll surely find her way.

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