Penn Hills’ Gregory wraps another swim season at PIAAs

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Saturday, March 24, 2018 | 1:39 AM


Penn Hills junior Kimani Gregory can cross the high school portion off his busy swimming schedule as the season concluded March 14 and 15 at Bucknell with the PIAA Class AAA championships.

Gregory finished second in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 48.03 seconds, just behind Conestoga's Brendan Burns (47.04).

In his final race of the season, Gregory finished third in the 100 freestyle as he finished with a time of 43.76. North Allegheny teammates Mason Gonzalez and Jack Wright finished first and second with times of 43.03 and 43.56.

“Winning is awesome and you can come back a state champion, but dropping the time is what a lot of people are interested in and what makes you stand out from the rest of the pack,” Gregory said.

Two weeks earlier at WPIALs, Gregory defended his 100 butterfly title by winning in 48.25. Gregory set a WPIAL record in the 100 freestyle with a time 44.09.

Gregory wasn't pleased with his performances at states the last two seasons. Heading in, he would get nervous because he wasn't familiar with the pool at Bucknell. His experience the third time around was different.

“It was a big adjustment on understanding where I'm messing up in my races because you swim in the pool once a year,” Gregory said.

In the last couple of months, Gregory reworked his freestyle stroke with his coach, Jim Skirboll. The work paid off: Gregory dropped 0.33 seconds between WPIAL and states.

When Gregory was at the TYR Pro Swim Series meet in Austin, Texas, in January, he heard Olympian Nathan Adrian was experimenting with his stroke and decided to apply it to his situation. Gregory said he has changed his stroke four or five times in the last couple of months.

“At nationals, he was like, ‘We are in the mode of changing up our stroke to see where I can go my fastest and still feel good about it,'” Gregory said.

“That was the mode that we were in. Now, we have what works best for us. We just have to literally fix one thing.”

Even with the personal bests in the 100 free and 100 butterfly, Gregory won't stop perfecting his craft. He said he was 10 pounds overweight at states and will take some time outside of the pool to focus on getting stronger and getting to his ideal weight.

After focusing on academics, Gregory will look to join his Racer X Aquatics swim club soon. He wants to participate in the TYR Pro Swim Series meet May 17 in Indianapolis as well as meets in the beginning of June and July at Ohio State.

Penn Hills senior Stephanie Sipple, a Cleveland State commit, didn't qualify for the finals at states. She finished 27th (59.00) during the prelims of the 100 butterfly and 30th (5:18.36) in the 500 freestyle.

At WPIALs, Sipple finished eighth with a time of 58.12 in the 100 butterfly and fourth (5:09.49) in the 500 freestyle.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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