The coronavirus forced plenty of changes on winter sports teams, and may have hit particularly hard in the sport of swimming.
Chambersburg will begin the season with just five swimmers on the boys team and 10 (plus two divers) on the girls team. In addition, during the December break, athletes were really challenged to stay in shape because they couldn’t get in the water to train.
The Trojans open their season Jan. 12 at Mifflin County.
The Chambersburg girls have some experience back and have added three freshmen who should improve the team’s chances.
Sophomore Layne Rydbom placed 30th in the 200 IM at the District 3 meet last year, and will also swim butterfly and breaststroke. Senior Emily Stroble, who will swim at Immaculata College next year, is set up for the butterfly and distance freeestyle races.
“Rydbom made districts last year and she’s really been working hard to improve,” Trojan coach Donnie Miller said. “She’s putting in time in and out of the water to get better. She and Stroble will be our team leaders.”
Miller expects the three freshmen — Hailey Fegan, Maddie Shifler and Abby Caltrider — to be reliable point scorers.
“They all came up through the YMCA program,” Miller said, “so they should contribute right away and be major point scorers. We’re not sure yet which events, but they all swim freestyle well. Caltrider and Fegan can do the sprints and maybe Shifler in the 500.”
Other veterans on the team include seniors Megan Brandt and Jess Ko, juniors Audrey Lough and Faith Asbury and sophomore Chace Johnson. Senior Kavia Myers and sophomore Kate Etter hope to pick up points in the diving event.
Miller said, “We have a group of girls that have talent. I’ll do what I can do to let them be successful, but with this situation we’re just trying to have fun and let them learn and grow.”
With only five swimmers, Chambersburg boys coach Chad White said, “I’m just worrying about the individual kids and getting their times down.”
The top swimmer is senior Aidan McMillen. He placed seventh in the backstroke and 12th in the 200 freestyle at districts last year and swam the anchor leg on the Trojan 200 medley relay team that took 14th at the PIAA Championships.
White said, “He should definitely make districts and have a shot at states this year. Chambersburg has won the 100 backstroke three of the last four years at districts and I’d say he has a shot of adding to that. We’re doing a lot of sprint work in practice with him, since his two main events will be the backstroke and probably the 50 free.”
The other veteran returner is junior Jacob Shifler, who qualified for districts last year in the 500 free. Sophomores Joseph Decker, Addison Disbal and Bryce Smiley are also competing.
“We had trouble getting swimmers out this year and we weren’t able to have any recruiting meetings at the high school,” White said. “It’s been challenging. We’ve had no practices since mid-December (until Monday) and we’re just trying to get back in the pool and get back in shape. The main thing is to get in shape first, then work on technique.”
Miller said, “We weren’t able to get in the water, but Chad made up some dry workouts for the kids. It was hard to stay motivated over the holidays, so it was a challenge.”
NOTES: The boys posted a 7-2 record last year (5-1 MPC), while the girls were 3-6 (2-4 MPC) … The girls lost district qualifier Liz Terrazas, who decided to swim only club events this year … Three district-qualifying boys are not competing for the Trojans this year — Robert Pong transferred to Mercersburg Academy, Gavin Vink moved to Nebraska and Colby Estep did not come out for the team.