Taylor looks to improve record time for Plum swimming

Monday, December 11, 2017 | 6:00 PM

Devan Taylor is the fastest girls 100-yard breaststroker in the history of Plum swimming.

She proved it again last year when she set the school record in March with a time of 1 minute, 5.8 seconds at the WPIAL Class AAA championships at Pitt's Trees Pool.

Despite the fast time, Taylor, a junior, was not able to reach the WPIAL medals stand as she missed a top-eight finish by one second and finished 11th.

Surpassing her own record and earning a WPIAL medal in the 100 breast are just two of several goals she has set for herself as she and her Plum teammates get the 2017-18 season started this week.

“Mentally, I am focused. I am excited for the season,” said Taylor, whose expectations this year include qualifying for states individually.

She competed in the 100 breast at states as a freshman and took 19th.

“Physically, I'm a little sore, but it tells me I am working hard. This is my junior year. It's a big year for me.”

Taylor is among three Plum swimmers who have their sights set on the girls 200 individual medley school record of 2:10.93 set in 1993. Taylor swam a 2:11.94 at WPIALs last year and placed 13th.

Mustangs coach Shawn Haupt said sophomore Delanee White and freshman Charlotte Jones also are 200 IM record-breaking hopefuls.

White swam a 2:17.29 at WPIALs last year.

“Delanee finished last year well, and she's already faster than her time at WPIALs,” Haupt said. “Charlotte is looking to make a nice run this year.”

White also is looking to challenge the school record in the 100 backstroke. The top mark is 59.01, and White's best last year was a 1:01.80 set in the regular season.

“She is within striking distance,” Haupt said.

Jones also hopes to make waves in the 100 fly.

Haupt said the girls 200 medley relay was close to the record last year.

The team of White, Taylor, sophomore Abigail Glasspool and senior Sydney Workman dropped six seconds from their seed time at WPIALs and finished 13th with a time of 1:50.32.

The school record, set in 1992, is 1:50.26.

“The medley relay record would be awesome,” Taylor said.

Workman will miss the season with a shoulder injury, Haupt said. But, he said, she still is a big part of the team and has been helping at practices wherever possible.

Junior Alexis Smith also returns after competing in the girls 400 free relay at WPIALs last season.

The boys team lost several to graduation from last year's squad, but an impact swimmer back to lead the squad is junior Justin DeCheck.

DeCheck finished last year with his name on the Plum record board as a member of the 200 medley relay with graduates Josh Cochran, Nick Workman and Michael Schollaert.

The quartet finished 10th at WPIALs in March and set the record with a time of 1:39.20. The previous best mark was 1:40.42 set two years earlier.

DeCheck qualified for WPIALs in every event last year. He said the 100 fly record of 51.77 set in 1990 is on his radar.

“Every day in practice for a long time I've looked up and seen the time on the board,” DeCheck said. “I've memorized it. It's always on my mind. It's one of the longest-standing records. I really want it.”

Only the boys record in the 400 freestyle relay has stood longer.

DeCheck placed 10th in the 100 free (47.80) at WPIALs last season and just missed a medal in the 100 back as he took ninth (52.68).

“Justin is such a versatile swimmer,” Haupt said.

“My goal is to put myself out there more and make a name for myself in the WPIAL,” DeCheck said. “But I also want to make sure I am doing what I can to help the team, whether that's with good swims in meets to earn points for the team or to help the younger swimmers improve their swims.”

Haupt said junior Justin Rowe and sophomores Joey DeCheck and Justin North hope to challenge for individual spots at WPIALs.

Row and Joey DeCheck swam in relays last year at WPIALs.

Haupt said there are several strong freshmen who hope to make an impact in their first varsity seasons.

“They are young, but it will interesting to see how they can improve,” Haupt said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.


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