By Mark Dano-
Smooth legs and smooth strokes. This is the Penn Manor swim team. Instead of running or skating, these Comets are propelling themselves through the water.
“I have swam for so long that I can’t even imagine myself not swimming,” said junior Cooper Lindsley. “At the same time though I’m hoping to go on to college and hopefully I’ll be able to get some kind of scholarship for my sport and my passion.”
Some argue that swimming isn’t even a sport.
“It’s not a sport,” said a Penn Manor junior who wishes to remain anonymous. “It’s something you do to stay alive.”
But those who are apart of the team would beg to differ.
“It angers me so much when people say it’s not (a sport),” said senior swimmer Abby Barley. “I’d like to see every single person who says that jump in the pool and do what we do everyday. It’s not easy!”
Either way, the team goes through an extremely tough practice schedule.
“Practices are two hours of tough mental and physical pain,” said Barley. “Like running, swimming is more of a mental thing. You have to tell yourself ‘I can do this.'”
According to senior swimmer Frank Herr, the practices start off with a warm up of various strokes for fifteen minutes. Then they complete ‘transition sets’, which are strict routines for twenty minutes. Then they move into the ‘long set’, which is the very difficult endurance portion of the practice. Then more drills ensue. After this is a ‘semi-long set’, which is also difficult. The practice concludes with an ‘easy set’ to cool down.
The team has seen a lot of success that for some reason or another struggles to garner any attention.
“We always have a full boys/girls team qualify for LL leagues. We have at least one district qualifier and state qualifier each year,” said Barley. ”
Junior Cooper Lindsley and 2011 graduate Jess Burkhart have swam in YMCA nationals. Lindsley, and juniors Travis Wells and Steven Armstrong made it to districts last year. Sophomore Joelle Williamson also made it to districts.”
But no matter how hard they work and succeed, they can never find the publicity they deserve.
“We don’t get as much publicity, but we are definitely one of the harder working teams,” said Herr. “We are also one of the most underrated teams.”
The meets are a series of various events where both the boys and girls teams compete for the same goal, to defeat the opponent. In individual races or heats the top five finishers score points. Five points go to the victor, with one point going to fifth place. The relay heats award points to the top three finishing teams, with eight points going to the winning squad.
“Well we definitely lost a lot of seniors from both the boys and girls teams last year,” said Barley. “But with the experience of our upperclassmen and good leadership, and freshmen that came up to balance out numbers I think we’ll be okay. We always hope for a winning season, but even 50-50 I’d be happy with.”
The first meet of the season will be on December 13 at 6:00 pm against Ephrata High School.