Chester County high school swimmers have been preparing for the 2023 PIAA Boys and Girls Swimming and Diving Championships since Feb. 28 – the day after the PIAA District 1 meet. Nearly every other PIAA district held their respective swimming championships the weekend of March 3-4, which gave the District 1 swimmers an additional week of preparation for States.
“I think having our District 1 Championships a week earlier than everyone else allows us to bring back up their yardage and train hard, (and) to then bring them back down to rest them again for States,” said Avon Grove swimming head coach Kelly Burk.
Downingtown East girls swimming coach Sean Wyatt said, “I would agree that getting an extra week of practice is definitely an advantage. Any time that you can spend working on your craft and fine tuning the details is an advantage in any way.”
The Downingtown East girls team is well-represented at States this week, featuring eight Cougars.
“For practice (for States) we tried not to change our daily practice routine too much,” said Wyatt. “We like to keep a good relaxed atmosphere while also ramping up our training. All year we only have three lanes for practice with more than 22 swimmers, so when we get to Districts and States we are able to focus more one-on-one with our athletes and try to fine-tune their racing skills. As for rest we start to give more rest between sets in order to allow their body to recover the week of States.”
Wyatt’s top swimmer is senior Alexa Fulton, who won the gold medal at States last winter in both the girls 50 free and 100 free for the second consecutive year. And, for the second year in a row, she was named the Girls Swimmer of the Meet at the 2022 PIAA state championships.
Fulton made her presence felt at Districts last month, finishing first in the girls 50 free (22.79) and setting a new District 1 meet record in the girls 100 free (49.17), breaking the previous record of Pennridge’s Morgan Scott set in 2018.
“Alexa’s key to success at Districts was her strong start getting her into open water,” said Wyatt. “Once she is able to get out ahead she feels her best and can swim her race her way. She has worked a lot on her start and her turns this season to improve as much as she can. She was very impressive at Districts and we look forward to what she can do at States.”
Fulton said, “I was pretty happy with how I swam at Districts. I have been training harder with my club team this year than last year, and we trained right through Districts, so I was excited to be swimming as fast as I was without any real prep.
“My focus meet for the end of the season is YMCA Nationals (in April), so my training is focused around that meet, meaning I am not really resting for this (state) meet as well. Regardless of that, I’m excited to just get up there (at Bucknell) and race.”
Unionville junior Izzy Iwasyk, who finished third in the girls 50 free and fifth in the 100 free at States last spring, said last week, “For the three weeks between Districts and States, we try to maintain our taper. I have been going to practice regularly but the training we do at practice is different because we want to keep rested. My goals for States this year are to maintain the same times I went at Districts and hopefully place in the top eight (in 50 free and 100 free).”
Conestoga sparkled at States last year, with the Pioneer girls placing second and the Conestoga boys finishing fifth in the team standings. This week, the Pioneers again have a large contingent heading to States, including 11 competitors from the Conestoga girls team. The Conestoga boys include junior Jake Wang, who was named the District 1 3A Boys Swimmer of the Meet for the second year in a row.
When asked one week ago how his swimmers were using the 2 1/2 week gap between Districts and States, Conestoga boys swimming coach Mark Tirone replied, “Our swimmers have just started their taper for States. They will begin to decrease their yardage and focus on more speed/quality work with more rest/recovery.”
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