Competition fuels Hampton girls swim team

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Thursday, December 12, 2019 | 5:07 PM


The only way to get better is to compete with the best.

Bolstered by a team environment provided by the seniors, along with some fresh talent, the Hampton girls swim team hopes to do just that.

Seniors Rosie Oh, Lydia Quaglia, Ansley Haught and Emily Berkebile look to lead a team that will have a chance to improve on relay and individual success from last season.

“They’re all about having a fun, competitive environment on the team this year,” coach Morgan Zweygardt said. “Making sure everyone is included but making sure everyone is trying their hardest.”

Oh has been a WPIAL qualifier for three seasons. Last year, she competed in the 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, as well as the 200 and 100 freestyle individual events.

“She’s definitely organized, and she’s so capable in everything she does,” Zweygardt said. “I don’t know how she does it. She just wants to finish her senior year on a good note and continue what she’s been doing.”

Swimmers such as Quaglia (softball) and Haught (cross country) compete in other sports.

“A lot of them are multi-sport athletes so they are dedicated and work hard. They’re wonderful to have because they’re great competitors and don’t like to lose. … I think they’re going to be good leaders to the underclassmen coming up that are trying to make WPIALs.”

Junior Catie Kress has had her sights set further than WPIALs the past two years. She finished 11th in the 500 freestyle and 15th in the 100 backstroke, and is a state meet hopeful. Kress is a talented all-around swimmer who may switch events this year, her coach said.

“We’ve been working on her 500, but she’s also been improving her IM,” Zweygardt said. “She had a great 100 backstroke, but we aren’t necessarily locked in events for anyone”

That seems to be the rule of thumb for any swimmer.

“I think it’s going to be a decision on how they are feeling, what’s feeling good. Maybe take a year off a certain event because it became really tiring, swimming the same thing over and over at WPIALs,” Zweygardt said.

Sophomore Isabella Donato will look to qualify for her first individual event after participating in relays last year. Freshman Rita Khoury also will be one to watch in relays and individual events.

“She absolutely loves swimming,” said Zweygardt of Donato. “I think girls times are even harder to make than for boys in triple-A. But she’s gotten so close. She’s very technique-oriented and is really finding that competitiveness in the pool.”

Kress, who has always trained with the boys, has found an ally in Donato.

“Her and Catie are racing and pushing each other. It’s fun to watch her look to Catie and race her,” Zweygardt said. “I think that’s important you can race someone, get out of the pool, be friends and say ‘you had a good set today’. … I think Catie is excited we have some girls coming up that can train with her, and they can push each other.”

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