Luke Pletz, the last of the Pletz siblings, ended his prominent high school career in the pool March 6 at Upper St. Clair at the WPIAL Class AA championship meet.
And thus a family legacy of quality swimming at the scholastic level ceased.
A senior at Thomas Jefferson, Pletz competed in the boys 100-yard backstroke, 100 butterfly and fly portion of the 200 intermediate relay at the WPIAL meet.
Pletz, 18, qualified for WPIALs in multiple events all four years of his high school career and is the youngest of five siblings who have had outstanding swim careers over the past two decades.
All five — Sam, Jacob, Dan, Grace and Luke — qualified for the WPIAL championships.
“Being the youngest in the Pletz family has been something I am very proud of,” he said. “My brothers were my idols and greatest motivators. As a kid, I always looked up to them and wished to become as fast as they were. I never was able to be quite as good as they were; however, I could not be more thankful for their guidance and help growing up.”
It wasn’t a case of smooth sailing for Pletz at the onset of the 2020-21 swim season, for various reasons.
“The start of my senior season was a little rocky with it being shut down during winter break. Just as we were getting back into the water, I tested positive for covid-19,” he said. “After missing over a week of practice, coming back was tough, and I was behind much of my competition.
“I was able to push on and continue to race in all of our scheduled meets, even resetting my 100 fly and 200 IM records in the process. Qualifying for WPIALs came down to our last meet against Elizabeth Forward. Thanks to my coach, Brian Peters, and my training partners, I feel the best I ever have in the water.”
To say Pletz had a record-breaking career at Thomas Jefferson is an understatement.
Pletz holds five records, including the two he set this year on senior recognition night.
He broke his own 100-yard butterfly mark in 56.79 and swam the fly portion of the team’s record-breaking 200 medley relay unit. Nathan Maksin, Matt Kail, Pletz and Christian Colosimo clicked in the relay to the tune of 1:48.50.
Pletz eclipsed his own record in the 100 fly with a time of 55.27 at the WPIAL meet. He placed eighth in the 100 back.
Pletz also holds team records in the 100 backstroke (56.23), 500 freestyle (5:28.29) and 200 IM (2:13.43).
He was a three-time team captain and was named swimmer of the year as a junior, when he also landed the coaches award in a vote by his teammates.
“One of my favorite memories at TJ is actually from this season,” Pletz said. “Our boys 200 medley relay broke our school record at our final dual meet. This was my favorite memory because I was the only competitive swimmer (among the four) before high school, so being able to break a 12-year-old record with three of my best friends who had never swum before high school was extremely meaningful.
Along with his four years in the water, Pletz has participated in football, cross country and track and field at TJ.
“This has been by far the most enjoyable year of swimming I’ve ever had,” he said, “and I am very excited to commit to a college this month and compete at the next level.”
Edinboro, Saint Vincent and Penn State Altoona are on his college radar. He plans to major in business management and become a swim coach after graduation.