Quaker Valley swimmers ready to show up for work, contend for championships

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Sunday, December 13, 2020 | 8:40 PM


In his first year at the helm of the Quaker Valley swimming and diving program, John Nemeth wants athletes to put in the work that will enable them to compete at their highest level.

Despite limitations resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, that is exactly what the Quakers were doing until all Pennsylvania high school sports were put on pause last week. They have been adhering to protocols and putting in their work in the pool. The rest should take care of itself.

“We want to put in the work, and we want the kids to put in the work,” Nemeth said. “We want to compete in the section, WPIAL and state level, and my mindset is that if we put in the work consistently, that stuff will take care of itself.”

The Quakers have talent on the boys and girls side. On the boys side, senior diver Simon Iwanonkiw is one of the top returners. As a junior last season, he earned 422.90 points at the WPIAL Class AA championship to place second behind North Catholic’s Kyle Maziarz, who set a WPIAL record with a score of 558.05.

Iwanonkiw didn’t get the opportunity to compete at states because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Nemeth believes he could get back there this season and compete with some of the best.

“I think that’s a goal for him,” Nemeth said.

Navin Rana and Aidan Ragoowansi are two other seniors who Nemeth believes will have a good season. Both competed at WPIALs last year as a part of the 200-yard medley relay, and Ragoowansi also competed in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“They’ve both had a solid summer,” Nemeth said. “So we’re excited to see what they can do.”

Sophomore Alex Wagner also could have an impact. As a freshman last season, he competed in the 100-yard backstroke, the 200-yard IM and was a part of the 200-yard medley relay.

On the girls side, the Quakers have plenty of talent returning as well. Isabel Huang won the 200-yard IM and 100-yard backstroke last season at the WPIAL Class AA championships as a sophomore. She also placed seventh in the 100-yard freestyle.

“I know she has big goals this season after the year she had last year,” Nemeth said.

She will be joined by teammates such as Halle Wagner, who placed eighth in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2 minutes, 3.48 seconds, and, as a senior this season, she is expected to take on an even bigger role.

Sophomore Ella Fuener also could play a big role this season. As a freshman, Fuener placed 10th in the 50-yard freestyle at the WPIAL Class AA meet.

Overall, the Quakers have a mixture of young swimmers and older swimmers who are trying to pass on the work ethic and determination that Nemeth wants his athletes to have.

“The kids have been very open to everything we’re trying to do though, which is great,” Nemeth said. “I think it can be challenging sometimes to step into a program as a new coach because everyone does things differently.”

Now, the Quakers just need to continue to put in the work that will pay off down the road.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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