Gateway swimmer claims medals, finds motivation at state meet

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Sunday, March 28, 2021 | 10:01 AM


In a high school swim season full of ups and down, with changes and uncertainty around every corner, Andrew Holmes still planned to meet all of his goals and expectations.

The Gateway junior ticked off many of the boxes he hoped to over the past couple of months and capped the season with a pair of medals March 20 at the PIAA Class AAA championships at Cumberland Valley High School.

“States was very motivating for me to want to get more medals and place higher next year,” said Holmes, who took seventh in the 200-yard freestyle and came back for sixth in the 100 free.

In the 200 free, Holmes raced to a time of 1 minute, 40.58 seconds, an improvement of nearly a second from his WPIAL-championship time of 1:41.43 recorded March 7 at Upper St. Clair.

He again was the top WPIAL finisher.

“It was pretty exciting to see that time drop in the 200 free,” said Holmes, who set school records in the 100 and 200 free this season. “I didn’t think I would be able to drop time in either event.”

He finished the 100 free in a time of 45.91, slightly elevated from his WPIAL runner-up finish of 45.78.

The top six finishers in the 100 free at WPIALs also competed at states. Seneca Valley’s Daniel Simoes placed second, while WPIAL champ Josh Bogniard from North Hills tied for fourth.

Last year at states, Holmes placed 18th in the 200 free (1:43.32). He was scheduled to swim in the consolation finals of the 500 free after placing 16th in the preliminaries, but the PIAA, citing rising covid concerns, canceled the Day 2 championship and consolation finals races.

“Andrew swam very well at states,” Gateway coach Sherry Sonetti said. “He was pretty relaxed having been to states before. He understands there are some incredibly fast kids in the state. He keeps it real and sets goals for himself. He goes after those goals and isn’t trying to compare himself to other people. He can’t control how others swim.

“He hit a lot of the goals he wanted this year, and he was happy, like many others, that he simply had the chance to swim. Hopefully, next year, things get back to normal for everybody.”

Sonetti said Holmes might consider expanding his high school swim experience to include testing himself in events such as the 200 individual medley and 100 breast.

“I’ve always said he’s an all-around swimmer, and he can be successful in a number of different events,” Sonetti said.

Holmes continued training after states and was scheduled to compete with his Jewish Community Center Sailfish club teammates at an Allegheny Mountain Swimming tri-meet at Gateway last Saturday.

After a break of a couple of weeks, Holmes said he will be back in the pool training for spring and summer competition opportunities.

He also is looking forward to what is out there this spring as a member of the Gateway boys volleyball team.

After not playing as a freshman, Holmes joined the team last year. He attended one practice after the swim season ended before covid arrived and suspended and ultimately canceled the spring high school seasons throughout Pennsylvania.

With his height and athletic ability, Holmes said he hopes to have a breakout season on the court.

“Volleyball is really fun to do,” Holmes said. “I enjoy it, my teammates and the competition.”

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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