Riverview’s Shoop chasing WPIAL swimming success in 500 freestyle

Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 9:01 AM

Riverview senior Beth Shoop swam the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 5 minutes, 31.36 seconds during Fox Chapel’s Jan. 14 meet with Woodland Hills.

She was excited with that time, which was about a half-second faster than her medal-winning eighth-place finish (5:31.96) at last year’s WPIAL Class AA championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool.

The time, which placed her sixth on the Class AA performance list for the 500 free released Feb. 8, also eclipsed the automatic time standard by seven seconds giving her a guaranteed spot in the event at WPIALs on March 6.

“I am always tapered and rested for WPIALs, so to be able to go that time (5:31) at that meet in January after not racing for 10 months, I am super excited to see how much time I can drop at WPIALs this year.”

Shoop hopes she can put herself into position to grab one of the premium spots at the PIAA championships, March 19-20, at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg.

The PIAA in December said that only 16 in each event will qualify for states, a departure from the normal 32. After the district champions, it doesn’t leave much additional room for at-large qualifiers.

The WPIAL did its own measure of reorganization Feb. 3 as it announced only 16 swimmers will make up each individual event at the championships.

“I came into this season definitely a little bit nervous because we hadn’t been able to practice as much as we used to,” Shoop said.

“I took the practice time I did have and saw how much more valuable it really was. It allowed me to be at my best right now, which is super exciting.”

Shoop knows the 500, led by defending WPIAL champion Maeve Kelley, a sophomore at Shady Side Academy and a teammate of Shoop’s with the Fox Chapel Killer Whales club program, will be challenging.

As of high school meets ending Feb. 6, Kelley had the top time in the Class AA girls 500 at 4:58.93.

“Maeve has been absolutely killing it this season,” Shoop said. “I think it should be a really good, really fun race at WPIALs. There are so many good distance swimmers in that event. The competition really pushes me to go faster.”

Shoop again is an independent swimmer at the high school level because Riverview doesn’t sponsor swimming as a team sport.

She is designated to swim at Fox Chapel home meets. That gives her a large support system because many of the Fox Chapel swimmers also are her teammates with the Killer Whales.

“Throughout the quarantines and breaks out of the water, Beth was concentrating on becoming a better athlete and increasing her overall strength and flexibility,” said Cindy Woods, an assistant coach with the Killer Whales and Shoop’s high school swimming advisor.

“That has made a big change for her this year. She is a really positive kid who will never complain about what is dealt to her. She is driven to make the best out of any situation. I’ve coached her since she was 10, and she’s never been anything but a hard worker.”

Shoop has one final regular season meet Thursday as Fox Chapel hosts Shaler. She doesn’t expect to swim the 500, but she plans to swim the 200 free as she chases an automatic qualifying time in the event.

A 13th-place finisher in the 200 free at WPIALs last year with a time of 2:04.81, Shoop found herself 11th on the Feb. 8 performance list. She is 63 one-hundredths of a second off the automatic 200 free time (2:02.00).

Both her top 500 and 200 times this year are personal bests.

“The 200 is a more stressful event for me, but I am extremely happy with the way I’ve been swimming it this season,” Shoop said. “I’ve been working a lot on my pace in practice. I know I can drop that little over half a second.”

Shoop said she misses practicing and going into competition with former Killer Whales and Riverview teammate Caitlyn Moore, who moved with her family to Virginia Beach after last school year.

Moore, now a junior, was a WPIAL qualifier each of the past two seasons. She placed 16th in the 100 back at WPIALs last year.

“We still keep in contact a lot, and it’s exciting to see all the cool things she is doing,” Shoop said.

“It was nice to have that person who was in the same situation as an independent swimmer and could relate to that.”

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at mlove@triblive.com.


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