Shady Side Academy swim teams adjust to graduation losses
By: Marty Stewart
Friday, January 11, 2019 | 8:24 PM
With a quarter of the season complete, both the Shady Side Academy boys and girls swim teams are sporting 1-2 records with their section meets just beginning.
“The section grind should give us a good gauge of where we so far,” SSA coach John Landreth said.
“We have been focusing quite a bit on speed and technique in practice, moreso than in past seasons. It will be interesting to see where our times are once we begin going up against our section rivals.”
On the girls side, it appears that the graduation of five WPIAL relay champions has not seriously impacted the team.
“I am most proud that all three of our relay teams have swum WPIAL qualifying times so far,” Landreth said. “Heading into the season, it was a big question.”
Junior captain Maya Groff has been one of the key performers.
“Right now, she is ranked second in the 100 breaststroke and has helped our medley and 200 free relay teams to qualifying times,” the coach said.
Senior Sophia McMahon, also a soccer standout, has also led the way.
“She is on three of the relay teams and has been a stalwart with her sprint freestyle prowess,” Landreth said.
“First-year swimmers Alexandra Jaffe and Crystal Ma have been integral to our relay success, too. Jaffe has qualified for WPIALs in the 100 fly and is working hard toward the 500 free, also. Ma is on the cusp of breaststroke and 100 free qualification.”
Senior Marie Kim has qualified in the backstroke, and senior Nicole Jani and sophomore Ashley Chu have been strong in the free relays.
“We are off to a good start, but opportunities against teams like North Catholic and Northgate in the section will tell the tale of our season.”
The SSA boys returned a more experienced group and, like the girls, have qualified three relay teams for WPIALs.
“Our senior captain, Nick Lauer, has been on a roll and has qualified in the 100, 200 and 500 frees, along with the 100 fly,” Landreth said. “Along with fellow seniors Adrian Beckford and Will Engel, junior Sean Kelley and sophomore Stefan Stratimirovic, our free relays look very strong this year.
“We will need to remain vigilant at every meet and get stroke contributions from seniors Elisio Salazar and Jonathan Hung, as well as sophomore Andrew Liu.”
Landreth said top section competition will come from defending WPIAL champ Northgate, Knoch, North Catholic and Deer Lakes.
“We’ll have some extremely tough meets coming up,” he said.
Marty Stewart is a freelance writer.
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