In the pool profile: Indiana’s Thome hoping to add more WPIAL gold to an already full resume
Sunday, January 3, 2021 | 11:25 PM
Kyle Thome earned WPIAL-championship gold last year as the best in the Class AA 200-yard freestyle.
The Indiana senior swimmer also finished runner-up in the 500 freestyle and helped set WPIAL records as part of the 200 medley and 400 free relays with older brother, Cole, graduate Kevin Zheng and senior Isaac Griffith.
But that was as far as he or anyone else in Class AA would go as the PIAA canceled the Class AA state championship meet in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. The opportunity for state glory was put on hold.
The pandemic continues to toy with the high school swimming community and other winter sports, but Thome still is focused on a strong season he hopes will once again lead to the top of the podium at WPIALs and beyond.
“With where Kyle finished last year, he should be a favorite to remain near the top in both (individual) events,” said Indiana coach Garet Weston, who witnessed a small group of swimmers come together at WPIALs and bring home Indiana’s second consecutive boys team title and fifth overall since 2011.
“He understands that there will be some new kids in those events or some freshmen coming up who want to be there, too. He’s ready for that challenge. He has some pretty high goals, and we’re excited to see where his preparation leads him.”
Thome said he appreciates again being one of the favorites in the 200 and 500.
“You always have to be prepared for anything and take nothing for granted,” he said.
After a two-week delay in the start of preseason in-pool practices, Indiana got started Dec. 7. But after just five workouts, everything was shut down under orders from Gov. Tom Wolf as part of overall efforts to slow the covid-19 spread.
“It was very frustrating,” said Thome, an IUP verbal commit who owns the 100, 200 and 500 free school records. “For those days we were able to practice, we were able to get in some good work. We weren’t able to continue that, though.”
For states, Thome was seeded second in the 200 free, fourth in the 500 free and second with both relays. The PIAA awarded state medals based on how an individual or relay was seeded, so Thome came away with three silver medals.
“Kyle worked hard in and out of the water all offseason as much as he could to get ready,” Weston said.
“He was in the weight room probably six days a week. He looked really good for those couple of practices (last month), and I am sure he will be ready to roll once we get back. I know his work ethic helped him through the shutdown.”
Thome considers himself more of a leader by example, and he said he’s looking forward to helping the younger swimmers, along with Griffith, as they all navigate through these tough times.
The WPIAL and PIAA are preparing to further discuss a number of issues related to governing the remainder of the 2020-21 season, including the logistics of how to stage both the WPIAL and PIAA championships.
“We’re all ready to put in the work to get better and drop time,” he said.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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