Plum swim teams ready to navigate season

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Sunday, November 29, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Anticipation for the Plum boys and girls swim teams always is at a high level this time of the year.

The swimmers, coach Shawn Haupt said, ramp up training efforts to meet team and individual goals and expectation.

Covid safety concerns delayed the start of Plum’s winter athletic seasons — practices were to begin Tuesday — but Haupt said his swimmers have handled the delay as best as possible.

“It has not set us back from a practice standpoint,” Haupt said. “The kids are conditioned and focused on the season. Many of them have had opportunities to get in the pool and get stronger in the offseason. They have been able to work on technique. That will benefit them when the preseason practices start. They are in a better place than they were a year ago.

“The ones who don’t swim year-round, one week isn’t going to be the end of the world as they work to get back into swimming shape.”

With the in-pool workout requirements — 19 days of practice, Haupt said — before any competitions can take place, nonsection meets with Penn-Trafford (Dec. 14) and Kiski Area (Dec. 17) will have to be postponed.

“It’s important to shake the rust off and get back to a compete level,” Haupt said.

“We’re not going to get that opportunity for quite some time. It could also limit the number of opportunities to make WPIALs as well.”

Covid logistics in terms of space and capacity has caused the WPIAL to discuss holding the WPIAL championships at a site other than Pitt’s Trees Poll and also lower the qualifying standards to curtail the number of qualifiers.

The WPIAL noted that new qualifying standards set by the swimming steering committee should be released sometime in January.

The WPIAL board also temporarily suspended the 10-meet minimum previously required for teams to be eligible for championship competition.

The Plum girls remain in Class AAA for both section competition against Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional, Penn Hills, Plum, Shaler and Woodland Hills and the WPIAL championships. The Mustangs boys will swim the same section schedule but have dropped down to Class AA for WPIALs competition.

Plum tentatively begins section action Jan. 7 against Fox Chapel.

Depth, Haupt said, graduated from the girls team, but three WPIAL qualifiers — senior Charlotte Jones, junior Elizabeth Glasspool and sophomore Nina Ricciuti — are back.

Jones, a Division I commit to Long Island University-Brooklyn, placed 14th overall (59.39 seconds) in the girls 100-yard backstroke at last year’s WPIAL Class AAA championships, and she is closing in on the 100 backstroke school record of 59.01 set by Plum Sports Hall of Famer Karen Van Tassel in 1992.

She and Glasspool helped the 200 medley relay take 13th (1:52.44) at WPIALs.

Glasspool finished 10th in the girls 100 butterfly at WPIALs and lowered her own school record to 59.00.

Haupt said he is excited to see what Ricciuti (200 free, 500 free) can do coming back from a strong freshman year. He also said he’s anxious to see what freshman Reese Schollaert (individual medley, fly) is able to accomplish.

“Reese is a very smooth swimmer, and her IM and fly are fun to watch,” Haupt said. “She is a great addition to the team.”

The Plum boys team will center around a group of five — seniors Logan Minnick, Jordan Rogers, Evan Smith and Aaron Frederick, along with junior Sam Schohn — who return after competing at WPIALs last year.

“Because of numbers, we may not be able to compete in the dual meets as well as the girls will, but if there is a WPIAL meet, I would expect our boys to be right up there with the best of them,” Haupt said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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