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Conestoga girls roll in 200 free; Villa Maria well on its way of defending Class AA title

PHILADELPHIA >> Sitting back and waiting for someone to tell you that you’ve won isn’t what Caroline Famous is used to. So the Conestoga didn’t exactly know what to do with herself as the final two heats of the 200 freestyle relay played out at the District 1 Championships Thursday afternoon at La Salle University’s Kirk Natatorium.

Famous and the Pioneers’ squad of Sophie Poeta, Caroline Apathy and Madison Ledwith knew they’d thrown down the gauntlet by winning the second heat of four in a very quick 1 minute, 35.61 seconds, trimming four seconds from their seed time.

When Famous saw that time hold up for the third heat, she thought the Pioneers had won gold. And when it came time for the fourth heat, she didn’t bother watching at all.

“I was talking to Madison, and I thought the third heat was the last heat, and we beat everyone in that so I was like, ‘wait we won?,’” Famous said. “And then I couldn’t even watch the last heat. I was facing the wrong way and then I turned around and I was so excited.

“We knew we could swim out a good time because there’s a lot of fast swimmers in our relay. It was really exciting and it was fun to be a part of.”

When North Penn touched in 1:35.70, the quickest time in the final heat, Famous knew for sure that the Pioneers had pulled what looked on paper like a sizeable upset. Still, she waited for confirmation from coach Rob Kirkby before she started bouncing with joy with her teammates.

Famous covered the opening leg in 23.73 seconds, with Ledwith dropping the hammer on the anchor to the tune of 23.27 in a race whose excitement stemmed mostly from the district’s one-off system of awarding medals.

Famous had a considerably larger degree of control in winning the 50 free, clocking in at 23.45. She seized the early initiative in the final heat – with less early-heat intrigue to ward off – and used her stellar underwater off the turn to take control. Not bad for a swimmer who listed her main objective as not getting DQed with her penchant for quick starts.

“I just wanted to win and see what I could pull out,” Famous said. “I wasn’t that happy with my time, but I just wanted to score points for Conestoga.”

The Villa Maria girls swimming team got well on its way to claiming a 16th straight District One Class AA Championship team title.

Individually, the Hurricanes placed seven swimmers in the top three and claimed both relays through the opening day’s six events as Villa Maria jumped out to an early 298 points. Nazareth Academy follows at 173.

Villa’s Nina Smith, Maura McManus and Olivia Giampietro finished one through three, respectively, in the 50-yard freestyle, with Smith claiming it at 24.47.

Villa opened up the meet with a 1:47.24 in the 200 medley relay, cutting two seconds off their qualifying time and beating the field by over two seconds. The contingent included Kira Buchler, Katelyn Chick, Giampietro and McManus.

Hope Reynolds was silver in the 200 IM (2:11.69) while Alexa Turco captured bronze in the 200 free (1:57.14). Kaitlyn Agger finished second in the 100 butterfly (59.11), right on the heels of Nazareth Academy’s Maddie McSorley (57.10).

Villa then closed out with a top finish in the 200 free relay, Smith, Chick, Turco and Agger finishing up at 1:40.05.

Around the Ches-Mont:

West Chester East junior Ann Carozza captured a gold medal with a 55.03 in the 100 fly. She cut over half-a-second off her qualifying time and bettered the field by 0.45.

Avon Grove opened up the meet with a gold medal in the 200 medley relay at a time of 1:44.99. The contingent included Emma Brinton, Olivia Paoletti, Sydney Paglia and Sophie May.

Paoleti and Bronton also finished second and third, respectively, in the 200 IM.

Unionville’s Camryn Carter was silver in the 50 free (23.82) andput herself in time qualification with a seventh-place (1:52.79) finish in the 200 free. She also anchored Unionville’s 200 free relay, which finished up at 1:36.07 for the bronze. The contingent included Maura Grimes, Jessica Homitz and Olivia Miller.

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