Quaker Valley swim teams seeing results

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Sunday, April 3, 2022 | 11:01 AM


John Nemeth recently completed his second season as Quaker Valley’s swim coach.

Nemeth, a physical education teacher at QV’s middle school, was an eight-time All-American at Denison.

Nemeth coached at Chartiers Valley from 2015-20 and is a coach with Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics. He previously coached at Centerville High School in Dayton, Ohio.

He is assisted at QV by Rose Stidsen and Vernon Yenick.

“It’s been a great couple of years at Quaker Valley,” Nemeth said. “The swimmers and divers have welcomed us and been a great group to work with every day. And it’s an awesome community that supports swimming and diving, which makes our lives as coaches much easier.”

The affable QV coach discussed his basic coaching philosophy.

“I’d say it’s good quality work that keeps swimmers engaged,” Nemeth said. “It can be a mentally draining sport, so I always try to write workouts that swimmers can stay focused on. I’m by no means perfect, but I’ve found that athletes who are mentally stimulated in the pool get more out of the workout than those who have checked out because of a long boring set.

“There is a balance there because you need the distance, but I always try to create practices that have different focuses and give the swimmers something specific to work on every lap.”

The 34-year-old Nemeth had an eventful month of March, both in and out of the pool.

After coaching the Quakers in the WPIAL Class 2A finals at Pitt’s Trees Pool and PIAA championships at Bucknell University, Nemeth enjoyed a weeklong “honeymoon” in Barbados.

Nemeth and his fiancee Leah Herbert, who is employed as a dental assistant, will be married May 7, as their wedding plans were reversed because of covid restrictions.

Quaker Valley was represented by 11 swimmers and three divers at this year’s state championships. Nemeth discussed their performances.

“We took a lot of positives away from the PIAA meet, and it is something our team is going to learn and grow from going forward,” he said. “Last year was unique with WPIALs and PIAAs being adjusted for covid, so this is the first time our swimmers and divers competed at a meet like this. There is a learning curve that comes with prelims and finals in meets like that, and we didn’t have that experience last year.

“It wasn’t a perfect (PIAA) meet and there are swims and dives we would like back, but all in all, we are proud of how (the QV athletes) competed and know they will be better for it next year. Being able to qualify 14 athletes is a huge deal, though, and every one of those athletes is returning next season. We are excited about the future of QV swimming and diving.”

Quaker Valley’s leading swimmer in 2021-22 was Emily Connors, an accomplished sophomore competitor and three-time state medalist.

“Emily is a tough swimmer and had to come up with a lot of fast racing over the past six weeks or so,” Nemeth said. “It is a challenge, especially when you think about her racing the 100(-yard) free twice (prelims, finals) at states, then also swimming the 100 free lead-off on the (400) free relay that same day twice (prelims, finals). She also had to race the 100 fly, then immediately get up and lead off the 200 free relay twice, which isn’t easy.

“She’s continued to push through adversity and step up when her team needs her, and she sets the tone for everyone else. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She wants more and will rise to the occasion next year, I know.”

All three QV girls relay teams qualified for the state championships.

Connors swam the first leg for the girls 200 freestyle relay, which placed sixth in 1 minute, 40.73 seconds. Connors, freshmen Paige Juliano and Kwilai Karto and junior Ella Fuener teamed up in the event.

“It was my goal to podium in my individual events, and I was able to do that,” Connors said. “I didn’t swim the times I wanted or place how I wanted, but I am still pleased with the fact that I was able to place on the podium at the state level.

“And one of our team goals was to get at least one of our relays on the podium, and we successfully did that.”

The Quakers’ 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams finished 10th and 15. Connors, Fuener, Getty and Juliano competed in the 400 free relay. Getty, Gilligan, Fuener and Juliano swam in the 200 medley.

“We took a gamble on our relays and shifted Emily from the 200 medley to the 200 freestyle because we thought it would give our team a chance to score (in the top 16) in all three,” Nemeth said. “Ella Fuener replaced Emily on the fly and that relay was able to place 15th. Emily had to lead off the 200 freestyle relay immediately after the 100 fly and we were able to place sixth. And the 400 free took 10th, which is motivation for next year because they can be top-eight in the state.”

Three divers — Ruby Olliffe, Ruby Krotine and Katie Blackmer — represented Quaker Valley at states. Olliffe, the WPIAL 2A runner-up, placed sixth.

Nemeth was thrilled with the effort of QV’s diving specialists.

“Qualifying three divers for the meet is beyond impressive,” he said. “Coach Vernon has done an excellent job with that crew. All three are coming back next year, too.”

Nemeth also was impressed with the evolution of the QV boys team this season.

“The boys only qualified one swimmer and one diver for WPIALs last year, and no swimmers moved onto states,” Nemeth said. “They were able to qualify two individuals plus all three relays this year, which showed great growth as a team.”

The Quakers’ two individual qualifiers at states were junior Alex Wagner in the 200 IM and freshman Ryan Steinfurth in the 100 backstroke.

Wagner, Steinfurth, freshman Thomas Fuener, sophomore Wesley Riddle and junior Spencer Wiehe all contributed on relays.

“We are excited about the potential on the boys side,” Nemeth said, “and they are motivated to improve for next year.

“We want to just keep building up interest in the program and improving the team as a whole,” he continued. “We for sure wanted to get some more depth on the team since we were top heavy last season, and I think we’ve done that on both sides.

“I’d also say we wanted to see some individual growth from swimmers since it is such a young team. That is always going to be more gradual, but the team has matured over the past year and they are going to continue to develop into next year.”

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