Nothing slows Serra Catholic freshman, even her school’s lack of a swim team

Sunday, February 4, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Emily Ruperto enjoys the satisfaction of finding a way to self-motivate while competing for Serra Catholic in swimming.

The Eagles don’t have enough kids to field a full team, so Ruperto competes as an independent swimmer. In many competitions, Ruperto’s only opponent is the clock on the scoreboard.

“I feel like it can be hard because it’s hard not to have the motivation of competing against other swimmers,” said Ruperto, who is a Penn Hills resident. “Other than that, it helps work on self-motivation. I think it’s also less pressure. You are just working on yourself and your own time.”

Ruperto has found the right balance to make her freshman season a successful one. She has hit the WPIAL Class 2A qualifying times in the 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke and 200 IM.

Ruperto has plenty of experience in the pool. She competes for the Greater Pittsburgh Aquatic Club team, which runs concurrently with the WPIAL season. GPAC coach Morgan Bush, who also coaches the Penn Hills High School swim team, said she is proud of how Ruperto attacks each race.

“Honestly, it’s all her own self-motivation because she doesn’t have a team,” Bush said. “She has to swim in a lane by herself and do events by herself. She can’t race anyone.”

Ruperto started swimming when she was 4. As she got older, she became more competitive and started swimming at GPAC to take things more seriously. Ruperto was excited to have an opportunity to test herself during the WPIAL season.

“It’s definitely different,” Ruperto said. “For club swim, I have high standards and I put a lot of pressure on myself. It’s different in a good way. It’s not that serious. It’s fun and exciting and enjoyable.”

Ruperto is looking forward to the rest of the season. She hopes to hit another qualifying time in the 50 and 100 freestyle races. Competing at Pitt’s Trees Pool at WPIALs will be an environment she is comfortable with.

Ruperto often competes at the venue in the club season. What Ruperto is still adjusting to is how to handle staying on pace without having other competitors push her. Ruperto said her mom helps coach her at events.

“It’s what I can do in that moment,” Ruperto said. “All I can do is go out and give it all I have. It’s hard because I’ll see big (time) adds and drops.”


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