Gateway swimmers in good position for post-Livingston era

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Friday, January 24, 2020 | 5:27 PM


For the last couple of years, the standard bearer of the Gateway swimming program has been Olivia Livingston.

The senior Louisville recruit has won PIAA and WPIAL gold medals and set state records in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, keeping the Gators relevant in the regional and state swimming scene.

While both boys and girls squads have three wins through eight meets, there are several underclassmen who are looking to carry Livingston’s momentum into the program’s future.

First-year coach Sherry Sonetti has multiple swimmers on the team not named Livingston who have already qualified for the WPIAL Class AAA championships.

After earning a spot at WPIALs as a freshman last year,

Sophomore Andrew Holmes, for instance, has qualified for WPIALs in every individual event. He earned a spot in the field for the second consecutive season in the 500 freestyle and 100 breaststroke events in early December and subsequently also qualified in the 200, 100 and 50 freestyle, the 200 individual medley, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

Despite succeeding in several strokes, Sonetti is expecting Holmes to capitalize on his potential for achievements greater than reaching qualifying times.

“(The coaches) are very happy with how Andrew is performing, but we feel he has a lot more to give,” Sonetti said. “He does double practices and works extremely hard, but I know when he starts his taper, we will see his times drop.”

Tapering is the common swimming practice of decreasing exertion and increasing rest for maximum performance on meet day.

Holmes is most likely to win a WPIAL medal in the 500 freestyle, according to Sonetti, as he has prior experience competing in the race last year at Pitt’s Trees Pool. Holmes finished 10th in the 200 freestyle and 17th in the 500 freestyle at the meet.

Another sophomore, Summer Raymer, is also looking to lead the program for the next few seasons after qualifying for WPIALs in multiple events.

Along with the 500 freestyle and 100 backstroke, Raymer has also earned a championship spot in three other freestyle events, the 200 backstroke and 200 IM.

Sonetti believes the best is yet to come in Raymer’s execution.

“Summer is looking very strong. She has made almost every event WPIAL cut except for the (butterfly events) and best her work ethic is amazing,” Sonetti said. “I truly believe she’s going to hit her fastest times at WPIALs. I know her goal is to try and make it to (the state championships).”

Raymer placed ninth in the 500 freestyle and 18th in the 200 freestyle at the WPIAL championships last season. Her main focus will once again be on the 500 freestyle.

Andrew Holmes’ freshman sister, Morgan, has been an integral part of the girls relay teams while also qualifying for WPIALs in the 200, 100 and 50 free. She is striving to qualify in the 100 butterfly as well.

“She needs to hit a 1:01.5 (for the 100 fly). Her fastest time this year is 1:03.9,” Sonetti said. “We are working on her tempo, and she is taking private lesson to reach her cut.”

Morgan Holmes and Raymer were also part of a 200 medley relay team, with Livingston and freshman Anya Harris, that broke a Gateway pool record last Thursday (1:51.15) that had stood since 1996 (1:51.78).

The boys side features a freshman who earned a spot at the WPIAL championships with Primo Brodt Jenkins qualifying for the 200 breaststroke with a 1:04.53.

Three juniors — Gabe Sha, Payton Brown and Sam DiPalma — are closing in on qualifying for the 50 freestyle. The cut time for the race is 23.10. Sha’s fastest time as of Jan. 23 is 23.83, Brown owns a 24.29 time and DiPalma with 23.95.

Robert Scott III is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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