Shady Side working toward successful swim season

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Sunday, December 15, 2019 | 11:48 AM


Shady Side Academy will have to replace several key swimmers from last season, but coach John Landreth is confident in this year’s team.

“As per the norm, we have big shoes to fill this year,” he said. “But we have begun the process of finding our identity.”

Landreth noted the team lost seven of 15 WPIAL qualifiers and five of nine PIAA qualifiers. That includes Marie Kim and Sophia McMahon, who were integral to the team’s relay success on the girls side, and boys MVPs Adrian Beckford and Nick Lauer, along with Will Engel.

Last season, the girls went 6-5 overall, 4-2 in Section 3-AA and finished 11th at the WPIAL meet. The boys were also 6-5 and 4-2. They finished third in the WPIAL and 11th at the PIAA championships.

“We have solid numbers again with 19 boys and 16 girls, so working together to be the best team we can be will be important, starting with our first meet,” Landreth said.

WPIAL and PIAA qualifiers Maya Groff (breast, free and IM), Alexandra Jaffe (free, fly), Crystal Ma (breast, IM) and Kira Meyers (free) are back for the girls team.

Other returning letterwinners include Kat Bennett, Sophia “Phee” Marquette, Arusha Nirvan, Emory Anderson, Ashley Chu and Rory Engel.

Promising newcomers include sophomore Aliya Hinedi and freshmen Emma Gardner, Emma Gombos and Chloe Wells.

For the boys, Sean Kelley (free, fly) is a returning WPIAL relay champion and PIAA qualifier.

Seniors Akshay Amesur, Will Roberson and Daniel Xu, juniors Andrew Liu and Stefan Stratimirovic, and sophomores Anish Kusumanchi and Jeffrey Patterson also are back. Newcomers who could contribute are sophomores Ted Wong and Dev Weiss and freshmen Kevin Johnson and Samuel Tan.

“We do return many strong letterwinners, and, as always, I believe another year of learning and time drops will lead to much success,” Landreth said. “As always, we will strive to learn as much about ourselves in practice and meets as possible again this season.”

Landreth said he hopes the team will be balanced, but he will focus on sprint freestyling because he considers it the most important stroke for success in high school dual meets.

“Our dual meet success will be challenging as we have section meets with Northgate, North Catholic and Deer Lakes,” Landreth said. “They will be good tests of where we are. Hopefully, the swimmers can work thoughtfully and collaboratively to qualify a full complement to the WPIAL meet this season and potentially get a relay or two and a few individuals to the state meet again.”

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