Right at Home: Pottsgrove’s Emily Glinecke is the 2014-2015 Mercury All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year

It seems the one thing a lot of standout swimmers, ironically, have in common is crying at first try.

Count Pottsgrove standout Emily Glinecke among them. And for her it stretched on for quite a while.

“I went to the Y with my mom when I was about five, saw the swim team practicing at the Pottstown Y and told my mom I wanted to do that,’ she recalled. “She signed me up and I swam for a season and cried every single meet.’

Her mom finally had it with all that crying.

“She said, ‘˜OK, you’re done with that. Let’s try gymnastics,” Glinecke recalled. “But I told her, ‘˜No. I want to keep swimming.’ So she signed me up again. And I cried again every single meet.

“Eventually, when I turned about eight, I stopped crying and started liking it. And over the years I started liking it more and more.’

Fast-forward about 10 years from that early beginning and there is Glinecke, now a junior, closing out this high school swim season with two PIAA silver medals, two district golds and two area-best times.

She may have competed at the Class AA level at both districts and states, but Glinecke swam Class AAA times in all her events as she won two PIAA-AA silver medals, one in the 200 freestyle with a 1:51.81, and the other in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:03.04. Both were the area’s fastest times (for the girls) this season.

At District 1-AA Glinecke captured the gold in the 200 free with a 1:53.50 and in the 100 breast with a District 1-AA record time of 1:03.72.

She also swam leadoff on her 200 free relay that placed fifth at districts, and the 200 medley relay that placed seventh, to bring her district medal total to four.

For that, Glinecke is The Mercury All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year.

Swimming at The Hill School her freshman and sophomore year, the District 1 and PIAA meets were a totally new experience for her. And she handled it like a pro.

“I didn’t really expect that everyone would go that fast, especially in AA,’ she said. “I had heard that AAA was really fast, but I never heard anything about AA, so I thought it wasn’t going to be as fast.’

Districts is still pretty tame compared to the PIAA championships.

“As soon as I got to states I realized how intense it was, not just in AAA, but also AA,’ she said. ‘At districts I was aware that I was swimming AAA times in the breaststroke, but I didn’t really pay that much attention to it.’

She didn’t even realize she had bettered the district record in the 100 breaststroke until Phoenixville sophomore Maddie Cooke (who held the record and is now swimming in AAA after Phoenixville moved up in classification this year) came over to congratulate her.

“Maddie came up to me, said, ‘˜Good job. You broke my record,’ and gave me a hug,’ Glinecke said. “I had no idea. That was really nice of Maddie.’

For Glinecke, her goals coming into the season were the same as it had been every year, dating back to those young YMCA days – winning and swimming faster.

“I just wanted to work hard and beat my best times,’ she said. “Every race that I swim I try to win, or come close to winning. I never look at the clock right away, I first look at the place where I finished. And then I look at how well I did in terms of times.’

And her times kept dropping and dropping as the season went along. And even Glinecke was surprised with how well the season went.

“Especially in the 200 free,’ she said. “I didn’t expect to go a 1:51. My goal for this season actually was a 1:55. I did a lot better than I thought I would.’

And she didn’t expect to win all those medals either. And she cherished those state silver medals the most.

“Because it was a lot faster competition, so there is a lot more pressure,’ she said. “I felt I had more of a race, in both events, at states. So that was a lot more challenging.’

And she loved that PIAA competition and challenge.

When high school time rolled around, Glinecke started out at The Hill School because a lot of her local friends were applying at The Hill.

“I knew a lot of other swimmers from Pottstown who had applied at Hill, and a few went,’ she recalled. “So I kind of just wanted to apply and see if I could get in. And then I got in. I didn’t really know much about the school when I decided to go there.’

She became one of the standouts for the Blues almost instantly. But after two years, she decided she would rather come home to Pottsgrove.

“At the Hill School there was a lot of pressure on me, pressure to get good grades,’ she said. “And they try to get everyone to do more than one sport, so I had to do water polo for one season. Right away I didn’t like it all, and it kind of got me out of (swimming) shape.’

And got her thinking.

“I wanted to focus more on swimming and I couldn’t really do that at Hill,’ she said. “And the pool conditions there weren’t ideal for my asthma, which I kind of developed my freshman year. I got really sick and was out for about two weeks. Then, sophomore year, I had a really bad asthma attack at a swim meet.

“So that was kind of the number one reason why I left there. I also just needed to go somewhere where I could focus on swimming more and could balance out my school work and practice more.’

And with all that in mind, she decided to join veteran Boyertown swim coach Linda Jones’ Boyertown summer YMCA team.

“I’d always heard about Linda and how tough she was, and was really intimidated by her,’ Glinecke recalled with a smile. “But I wanted to join a more intense team. So I tried out two years ago, but didn’t go regularly. Then thought, ‘˜I’m going to swim at Boyertown this winter and then in the summer.’ And it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.’

But leaving The Hill School last year was not an easy move for Glinecke.

“It was a really big and hard decision for me because I’d be leaving all my friends there,’ she said. “But I needed to make it. And it was the right decision because it would be less stress on me and I could swim a lot faster.’

She also already knew Pottsgrove swim coach Karen Youtzy from swimming with Youtzy’s daughter Nicole on the Pottstown Y team in years past. Glinecke’s mom and Youtzy had become friends during those Pottstown Y years. Her mom talked to Youtzy about Emily transferring home to Pottsgrove and swimming on the Falcons team.

“And Karen Youtzy said that it was fine that I practice at Boyertown,’ Glinecke said.

Youtzy was thrilled to have Glinecke on her team.

“Emily had a phenomenal season at Pottsgrove,’ Youtzy said. “She was a huge asset to our relay team as well as the overall team. It was a lot of fun to watch her race and especially to see her win both her events at district. I can’t wait to see what she does next year.’

The adjustment to the smaller Pottsgrove team was easy for Glinecke.

“I knew some people there already, and knew a lot PAC-10 swimmers from Y swimming,’ she said. “We’re a small team at Pottsgrove and I like that better because we get to know each other better. We all encourage each other to swim our best times. It’s just a lot of fun. It feels good to be back home in Pottsgrove.’

Glinecke has also grown into the top swimmer on the Boyertown Y team and once the PIAA meet was over, moved on to prepping for YMCA nationals in Greensboro, N.C., at the end of March and early April. She was the Boyertown Navy Seals’ highest seed going into the Y nationals, at eighth in the 100 breaststroke.

From the time she was nine, her main event has been the breaststroke. She eventually added the 200 freestyle, but still likes the breaststroke more. And she credits Jones with the huge improvements in her times.

“I never really had a coach that would yell at me until I met Linda,’ Glinecke said, with a smile. “She’s helped me with my stroke, my technique. Some days, when I don’t want to practice, she helps me to keep going, to work hard.’

And a couple of times a week that means she practices before school, with practice at the Boyertown Y from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. But if that’s what it takes, Glinecke will be there.

“Emily is naturally very talented, but she is also an extremely hard worker,’ Jones said. “Very easy to coach. And now she has seen some success, her desire has really come back. That flame she needed has reignited because she was just about ready to quit when I got her here a couple of summers ago.

“Girls always hit a period where they stopped growing; their times don’t come down anymore. The determined ones overcome it. So here Emily is with one consistent practice summer and winter. And she has really grown into a beautiful swimmer and will only keep getting better.’

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