Pine-Richland swimmers see opportunity in roster turnover

Sunday, December 17, 2017 | 11:00 PM

Whether it is because of graduation, commitment to another sport or a move out of town, the Pine-Richland boys and girls swimming teams have had to deal with roster attrition over the last year.

In fact, most of the 15 swimmers the program sent to the WPIAL championships last season have finished their last lap in a Rams swim suit.

But according to the coach for both teams, Pete Barry, none of that has him concerned. As he has seen it, the open spots left behind and the ensuing competition over them has served to light a fire under several of his athletes.

“You can't replace personality, and you can't replace people. I get that,” Barry said.

“But it's going in a good direction. They're looking for their spots, and they're getting opportunities. So far, training-wise, they are getting after it inside and outside of the pool,” Barry added. “They don't want to miss their opportunities. They want to take advantage of the spots that they're getting a chance to take.”

The teams' leadership voids appear to be getting filled by swimmers such as senior Alex Steger on the boys side and sophomore Alyssa Schonbachler on the girls side, both of whom qualified for WPIALs in multiple individual events last season.

Steger figures to participate in the 100-yard butterfly and the 100 backstroke this year, and Schonbachler takes on the 100 butterfly, the 100 backstroke and possibly the 200 IM.

Junior Brian Phipps also qualified for WPIALs in two individual events last season, placing 15th in the 200 IM and 16th in the 100 breaststroke, and will return for both races this year.

Two other boys swimmers represented the school at WPIALs last season: Amaan Kazi and Jonathan Kelly. Barry said he expects both to continue honing their final times.

On the girls side, Landi Batykiefer is positioning herself to take advantage of recent roster turnover by assuming the top spot in the 100 breast.

Similarly, freshman Abby Flood is taking over the 100 butterfly and the 500 freestyle and has a chance to qualify for WPIALs this season, Barry said.

Pine-Richland swimming teams will travel to Penn Hills on Thursday to participate in a meet against the Indians.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.


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