Nine letter winners return for Baldwin swimming program
By: Ray Fisher
Friday, January 4, 2019 | 7:03 PM
Kim Klinger is back at the helm of the Baldwin swimming and diving program, a familiar spot for her.
She was greeted by nine returning letter winners at the beginning of the season.
“My philosophy hasn’t changed much over the 31 years I have been coaching,” Klinger said. “I believe it’s my job to provide an environment where each swimmer feels the excitement of being part of the team. Through encouragement and guidance, they can attain skills and experience memories they will have for the rest of their lives. The swimmers are taught to value themselves and their teammates, along with showing respect for the members of the opposing team. That is something that I feel is lacking in the world today — compassion for others.
“Teaching life lessons is a huge part of my way of coaching. There is life outside of the pool, and the swimmers need to understand how to be a positive part in it. Hard work, dedication and positive support of their teammates are just a few values that transcend swimming and life. Always strive to win, and handle defeat with dignity.”
Last year’s letter winners back at Baldwin in 2018-19 are seniors Katelyn Meyer and Camryn Beveridge; juniors Corey Geyer, Joey Weber and Ciara Decker; plus sophomores Dylan Stokes, Allison Schroeder, Nikki Kosco and Leah Revo.
Kosco and Revo were WPIAL relay qualifiers for the girls team a year ago, as were Stokes and Weber for the boys team.
Kosco, one of the team leaders, started swimming when she was 8. At Baldwin, she is a member of the French and Service clubs, and student council.
Kosco anticipates seeing her team become more competitive as the season progresses.
“The majority of our team is underclassman,” Kosco said, “so this year I hope the girls team wins a few meets so we can show the new girls how fun being a part of the team is. Everyone is always in really high spirits when we win.
“The team is off to a strong start and we are looking to carry this momentum through the rest of the season.”
Kosco’s strongest events in the pool are the 100- and 200-yard freestyle.
“I would love it if we could send a few girls to the WPIAL championships in March again this year,” Kosco said. “And I would love to go to WPIALs for an individual event because I was on the relay team that went last year.”
Like Kosco, Stokes began swimming when he was 8. And, similar to Kosco, his goals are WPIAL-oriented.
“The other boys and I really want to qualify for WPIALs this year in a relay,” said Stokes, who also is a member of the Baldwin boys golf team. “Since we all swim close to the same times, we all need to drop a little time to make the cut.
“I would like to qualify for WPIALs in an individual event, as well. I want to qualify for the 200 freestyle, which is also my best event.”
There are 20 athletes in Baldwin’s varsity program. Along with last year’s letter winners, additional swimmers include senior Valerie Marino; and sophomores Anna Abbiatici, McKenzie Lytle, Olivia Los, Jeffery Natter and Gabriella Sinatra.
Alina Morgan, Keegan Rohland, Ava Jo Russin, Ethan Spozarski and Kevin Weber are the leading freshman prospects.
“The teams are in a rebuilding year,” Klinger said. “In the past two years, the majority of the teams have graduated. The teams this year are composed mostly of underclassmen with only three senior girls.
“With that said, both teams strive to win every race and achieve personal-best times. Both teams have their sights set on qualifying for the WPIAL meet in the relay events. There are also swimmers working hard to attain a qualifying time in an individual event.”
Klinger has been involved in Baldwin swimming in various capacities since 1989. She coached the varsity swimmers until 2004, retired briefly, and became an assistant in 2014.
Klinger took over as head coach again when Ryan Johnson stepped down this past year.
“’Never Give Up’ — those words can be found on the wall outside of the pool office,” Klinger said. ”Every swimmer taps the words as they pass them each day as a reminder to themselves to dig deep when they think the odds are overwhelming.
“Most of all, have fun in what you do; a positive attitude leads to more success.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.