UPPER DUBLIN >> Back home for a dual-meet battle with District 1 rival Souderton Area, Jenna Johns and her Upper Dublin teammates returned from their winter training tanned, rested and ready.
Make that tanned and ready.
“It was really rough, just coming back from Florida,” Johns said with a big smile. “It’s really, really difficult. I think Florida training is 10 times more difficult than normal winter training here, because you do more long course and that’s something none of us are really used to.
“But it was nice to be out in the sun, so I’ll take it.”
Johns swam to victories in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, anchored down the winning 200 free relay and contributed to the first-place 200 medley relay to help lead the Cardinals to a 97-80 victory over Big Red while the Souderton Area boys, powered by Cristian Musterait’s two freestyle victories and winning anchor legs on the 200 and 400 relays, raced to a 106-80 win over the Cardinals.
“We’ve been lifting really hard and practices have been absolutely brutal but I know it’s all gonna pay off in the long run,” Johns said. “We just gotta keep training hard and stay focused.”
The Cardinals began Wednesday’s meet with a victory in the medley, as Johns, a senior, joined youngsters Elle Braun, Abbie Amdor and Aly Breslin for a first-place time of 1 minute, 50.89 seconds.
“I’m really excited,” Johns said of the relays. “We have a lot of really good freshmen and underclassmen — there’s only six seniors. We’re really driven by our underclassmen and they come in with a really positive attitude so it should be a good season.”
Amdor went on to take first place in the 200 IM, helping host Upper Dublin to add to its lead. Additional victories by Kelly Regan up on the board and Laura Pendleton (200 free) and Rebecca Pendleton (100 fly) down on the blocks propelled the Cardinals.
Meanwhile, Musterait and the Big Red boys came out of their winter training with an impressive performance, enjoying their trip to the spacious Upper Dublin natatorium.
“I love swimming here. It’s a great pool, great water, just a good atmosphere to swim fast,” said Musterait, who cranked out a 21.95 in his 50 free and a 48.12 in his 100. “I can’t wait to swim (Upper Dublin) again — they always have great kids to race against, great competition.
“And I think it pushes every single one of us to become better swimmers.”
Storm Krader helped Souderton’s cause with a victory in the 200 IM, Spencer Nice raced to the top spot in the 100 breast and T.J. Yaglenski was a double winner in the 100 fly and the 100 breast. Plus, Wesley Ahart dove to a victory with a 288.80.
Asked how he felt coming off winter training, Musterait said: “sore, definitely sore, but a lot better. I’ve been working on my aerobic ability and now I wanna get into power and technique.”
The Arizona State commit polished things off Wednesday by joining Yaglenski, Jake Kramer and Reid Sinkinson for a strong swim in the 400 free relay.
Both squads are now out of training mode and into the thick of their season. Johns got another glimpse of her future during the break, as the pool that the Cardinals train at in Fort Lauderdale is right near Nova Southeastern University, where Johns will swim next season.
She begins the push for what she hopes is a big final season at Upper Dublin.
“I wanna go out with a bang. I wanna try to leave my name in Upper Dublin swimming,” she said. “I definitely want to try to be a top contender at states if I get there.”
Top Photo: Souderton’s Jake Kramer briefly pulls ahead of Upper Dublin’s Jake DiMartile in the boys 200 yard freestyle on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)