Carlynton multi-sport athlete Natali Lutsiv brings versatility to swimming pool

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Thursday, December 26, 2019 | 5:31 PM


During her years as an athlete at Carlynton, junior Natali Lutsiv has proven to be a versatile performer.

She is a setter and right-side hitter on the Cougars volleyball team, which qualified for the WPIAL Class AA playoffs in the fall. During the 2019 track and field season, she was a member of the 3,200 relay team that finished fourth in the WPIAL — shattering the previous school record in the event by more than a minute in the process — and qualified for the PIAA championships.

“She is such a hard worker in practice and is so mentally tough that she has success for us on the track,” Cougars track and field coach Nate Milsom said.

As successful as Lutsiv has been in volleyball and track, those are only side gigs. Her top sport is swimming, and she is hoping to help the Cougars earn a fourth consecutive section title.

During her sophomore season — in addition to contributing to a third straight section championship — Lutsiv was part of two Carlynton relay teams that earned medals at the WPIAL Class AA championships. She swam leadoff for the 200 medley relay that finished seventh and swam in the No. 2 spot for the 200 free relay team that placed fifth.

She also placed 12th in the 100 backstroke at WPIALs.

Lutsiv started swimming competitively at age 5, inspired by watching her older brother, Ostap. (The Lutsiv family, incidentally, hails from Ukraine. Ostap was born there, but Natali was born in the United States.) From that point, swimming would be her No. 1 sport, and her love for it kept growing.

“I told my mom I always wanted to swim just like him,” she said. “I think also the sport has just taught me so many things. It taught me self-discipline and how to be hardworking and always sticking to it. It’s challenging mentally and physically.”

And that versatility? It shows up in the pool as well.

Longtime Cougars coach Mike Schneiderlochner uses her in a variety of events, often matching her against the opponent’s top swimmer.

“She can swim really any stroke,” he said.

The Cougars’ narrow 89-80 victory over Montour on Dec. 17 provided a perfect example. Schneiderlochner moved Lutsiv into the 200 IM, an event she said she doesn’t swim often, and she not only earned valuable team points, she made the WPIAL cut.

Lutsiv said she feels confident in most events, though she said the breaststroke isn’t her strongest. She said she also enjoys the variation, but, mainly, she likes the notion of being challenged.

“I think it’s so important to do that, to go against the most challenging swimmers,” she said. “Winning other events doesn’t really do anything. Mentally, it gets me to work even harder.

“I do it for the team and for myself and for the coaches.”

While giving her all for her teammates and coaches, Lutiv has a few goals for herself as well. She envisions trying to reach the WPIAL qualifying standard in every individual event — if not this season, then during her senior year. More desirable, though, would be earning a WPIAL medal and PIAA qualifying spot in the 100 backstroke, which Lutsiv identified as her strongest event.

There is a good chance she will add laurels in volleyball and track and field before she is through, but becoming a WPIAL individual swimming medalist would be validation for the sport that was her first love.

“I have spent so much time in this sport,” she said, “and I think that would be a great way to top it all off.”

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