Mt. Pleasant’s Gardner achieves All-American status

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018 | 5:21 PM


Heather Gardner earned a big honor recently on the Mt. Pleasant girls swimming team that she knew nothing about until about halfway through the season.

Gardner, who was a sophomore, was named 2017-18 All-America by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association.

Her time of 23.25 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle ranked her 76th of the top 100 performances in that event.

Gardner achieved it in winning at the WPIAL Class AA championship meet in March.

“I knew I wanted to get a better time at WPIALs, so I just swam my hardest,” she said.

Gardner expects to improve.

“My biggest goal is winning states in the 50 free, also to break the (WPIAL) record in the 50 free,” she said. “I have been working hard this summer, with lots of weight training.

“I will really crack down on swimming in September, working very hard ’til WPIALs and states.”

Gardner (23.43) placed second at the PIAA championship last season.

She is approaching the WPIAL record of 23.10, set by Geibel Catholic’s Emily Zimcosky in 2015.

Mt. Pleasant coach Sandra Felice said Gardner, a school record-holder in three events, is an excellent goal setter.

“I would hope for her to see improvement in times for all events, but to focus more on 50 and 100 free events and the 100 (breaststroke),” Felice said. “I would like her to place first at states in the 50 (free) and 100 breast.

“Both of those goals are very attainable.”

Gardner said making All-America means a lot.

“I give my coach credit,” Gardner said. “She has pushed me to where I am.

“I never knew I would be this far when I first started swimming. It really shows how much hard work pays off.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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