Penn Hills swimmer Sipple signs with Cleveland State

Saturday, November 25, 2017 | 2:12 AM

After finishing 15th in the 100-yard butterfly at the PIAA championships last season, senior Stephanie Sipple wanted to have a clear head when navigating her final season at Penn Hills.

One order of business Sipple needed to take care of was deciding where she would attend college.

On Nov. 14, Sipple, who was mulling offers from Akron and Denison, signed a letter of intent to swim for Cleveland State next fall.

“I always wanted to be in the city. I never wanted to be in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “I stayed with one of the girls on the team, and I felt like I fit in there so well. It seemed they liked to have fun but they work hard. The coaches were great.

“Whenever you think of a D-I school, you think of it as swimming, swimming, swimming. But with them it seemed like it was all-around. They cared about your academics, what was going on in your life, along with the swimming aspect.”

Sipple, who made her official visit to Cleveland State Oct. 26-28, has a passion to help others and plans to major in psychology.

“I have always been interested in mental health because I feel like it's a big problem, especially as time goes on, I feel like there is going to be a bigger need for mental health specialists,” she said. “I want to help people if they are sad, and I want to make them happy.”

Even though Sipple has one more season at Penn Hills, she can't stop thinking about swimming at the collegiate level. She believes she can fill in a need of butterfly swimmers for Cleveland State next season.

She has been working on her skills with Racer X Aquatics. Sipple wanted to make sure she was prepared for the two-a-day practices and dryland program a NCAA Division I swim program requires.

“I have been working on my endurance, my underwaters and my turns,” she said. “Those are the key components to making me faster. At this point, it's not just my strength in the pool, but it's the little things like my technique that will help me ultimately drop time.”

Last season, Sipple finished third in the 100-yard butterfly (57.14) at the WPIAL Class AAA championships. Her 15th-place finish at states came with a time of 57.45.

At WPIALs, Sipple also finished seventh in the 500 freestyle (5:08.21).

This season, Sipple has been focusing on improving her technique to reach her goal off having a 55-second swim in the 100 butterfly.

“I would love to get into the top 10 or even the top eight to get on the podium (at states),” she said. “At this point in the season, I'm looking forward to enjoying my last season. I have already committed to a college so I feel like there isn't a lot pressure, but I want to do well for myself.”

This winter, Sipple will headline the girls swim team for Penn Hills, while junior Kimani Gregory will lead the boys swim team. Gregory finished second in the 100-yard freestyle and ninth in the 100 butterfly at the PIAA meet last season.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.


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