Larger roster providing hope to Latrobe swimming

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Monday, December 27, 2021 | 11:46 AM


Grey Arrigonie knows that depth matters.

And depth, without question, is something the Latrobe swimming program has much more of this season.

“We are bigger than past years,” said Arrigonie, now in his 12th year as Latrobe’s coach. “Last year we had some swimmers opt out. We were really low last year, and, in some meets, we were borderline on being able to fill the lineup. But we’re back up to 16 girls and 15 boys swimmers, plus our three (boys) and three (girls) divers.

“We’re still not as big as the big boys, but it helps you round out your roster, be a little more deep and allows the kids to swim a little bit more.”

Those opt-outs, of course, were because of covid-19. The pandemic greatly impacted the Wildcats.

Because of the limitations set on the number of participants at the WPIAL meet, Latrobe was unable to have anyone compete for a district swimming title.

“We never really knew what the next day could be,” Arrigonie said. “We’d start and stop, start and stop. We’d have breaks, and that’s not normal in swimming. It was definitely different.”

But through those trials, Latrobe began to develop some of its younger swimmers.

“We’re still pretty young,” Arrigonie said. “Last year we had a big freshman class, and we have a big freshman class this year.”

The returners have Arrigonie optimistic about the team’s potential.

Notably, Colin Spehar, Julian Zhu and Charlie Cratty are back after being part of the boys 200-yard freestyle relay team that broke Latrobe’s school record last season.

While the boys depth seems to be primarily in the lanes, Latrobe has a bevy of solid female divers.

Andrea Hoffman, Kate Wolford and Dannika Mucino competed at the WPIAL diving championships last season, and Hannah Polosky, a junior, is back after placing fifth in the Class 3A diving championships.

“We talk with them and try to get them to have personal goals,” Arrigonie said. “Everyone wants to achieve a time or hit the WPIAL cuts or place at WPIALs or make the state meet. So everyone has individual goals.

“And then we look at team stuff, like getting relays in the WPIALs, medaling them at that level, how many we can get to states. That’s how we look at our team goals.”

Despite each swimming team losing its opener against Penn Hills, Arrigonie is excited about seeing the participation from younger grades and watching those young, willing athletes develop. It plays perfectly into his biggest philosophy.

“We take anyone,” he said. “We’ve had swimmers who have never swam, and they can join the team and become assets over the years.

“We don’t want to turn anyone away. Swimming is one of those sports you can continue to get better or continue to learn it. We’ve had people with no background showing up their freshman year, and they’re a WPIAL athlete by their senior year.”

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