Freeport girls swim team grateful to be back in pool

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Sunday, January 10, 2021 | 8:10 PM


Alexis Schrecongost was grateful to dive into the pool and compete Friday as she and her Freeport teammates kicked off their season at Kiski Area.

The junior, a multitime WPIAL medalist in the 100-yard breaststroke who also has claimed medals in the 200 freestyle and 200 individual medley, said she reminded herself and her teammates not to get discouraged with times recorded after not being in a pool for several weeks and only having a few in-pool workouts before the meet.

Workout regimens out of the water, while beneficial, often can only go so far for a swimmer’s progression.

“We all knew that our best times weren’t going to come out,” said Schrecongost, who is optimistic the Freeport girls can improve on its WPIAL finishes from last year, which included an eighth-place team finish in the Class AA standings.

“Some of my events (Friday) felt better than others, but I felt good overall. We all were just trying to stay close. We also wanted to make sure we stayed pumped up about where we were, knowing how good of a feeling it was to be back (in the water) and competing. It felt good to reconnect with my teammates. It’s been a long time.”

Freeport coach Nikki Heasley said, for some, it was like getting back on a bike.

“You have to get your legs under you at first, but soon your instincts take over, things can progress,” she said.

“That’s what we hope and expect to see with the girls. We reminded them that what they did Friday as they worked through a little rustiness in technique and other things doesn’t define them for the season.”

The Freeport girls earned seven WPIAL medals last year — five individual and two relays — and the points (127.5) from those finishes placed them eighth out of 37 teams in the Class AA. They were less than five points from seventh-place Northgate.

Schrecongost, who also swims for the Fox Chapel Killer Whales, placed fourth in the 200 free and tied for fourth in the 100 breast. She is considered one of the favorites in the 100 breast as she is the highest returning WPIAL finisher in the event.

Seniors Brooke Welling medaled in the 200 free (sixth) and 100 free (sixth), and senior Madison Moretti claimed eighth in the 100 butterfly last year.

Schrecongost, Welling and Moretti also teamed with sophomore Aimee Heasley to claim fifth in the 200 free relay and sixth in the 400 free relay.

“I think we have what it takes to finish higher this year,” Schrecongost said. “I think all of the work we’ve been doing, including work outside of the pool, is going to pay off for us.”

Freeport hoped to take advantage of their opportunity in events at the PIAA championships in Hershey, but the Class AA portion of the state meet was canceled in the early stages of the covid pandemic.

“Not getting to go last year was a pretty big letdown for the girls after swimming well at WPIALs,” coach Heasley said.

Aimee Heasley, also a key member of the Freeport softball team, enjoyed a positive experience last year but then had to endure the disappointment of having her softball season wiped out when the Gov. Tom Wolf suspended then canceled high school spring sports as the covid-19 outbreak worsened.

Heasley is battling through shoulder issue,s and her participation moving forward, coach Heasley said, is being closely monitored to reduce the risks of further damage.

Sophomore Jayda Ben and senior Kodi Dombrowolski, who swam at WPIALs last year in the 200 medley relay, return with hopes of taking that next step in their performances.

Freshman Caitlyn Brennan, a specialist in the 100 backstroke, is hoping to make a first-year impact as the team eyes a possible run to a WPIAL medal in the medley relay.

“In the next couple of weeks, we should hopefully have a few more practices and be in a position to get our best times,” Schrecongost said. “We have to step it up.”

The WPIAL swimming committee agreed last week to lower the WPIAL qualifying standards because of a potentially limited number of entries allowed in each event for the championship meet in early March.

Because of covid restrictions on venue capacities, the WPIAL is looking into whether the meet can be held at Pitt’s Trees Pool or if a smaller location will need to be used.

The adjusted qualifying times are expected to be released as early as Tuesday at WPIAL.org.

“We’re always texting back and forth wondering what the times are going to be,” Schrecongost said. “Everyone is excited and anxious to see what happens.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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