Timing’s right for Hampton swimmers

Sunday, February 4, 2018 | 11:00 PM

The Hampton boys swimming team had to adjust last year going from Class AA to AAA. It didn't happen overnight, but patience and persistence are starting to pay off.

The team that didn't have any state qualifiers last year looks to the WPIAL championship with high hopes but also can relax a little. Many of the swimmers who didn't qualify for WPIALs until the last week of the season are in ahead of schedule, including the Schieb brothers, senior Brett and sophomore Drew.

Both will have plenty of events to look forward to at the WPIAL championships later this month.

“Brett is so far ahead of where he was last time this year for WPIALs,” said coach Morgan Zweygardt, adding while Schieb didn't swim the 500 freestyle last year, he has cut 9 seconds off his time from previous years from 5 minutes, 3 seconds to 4:54, and he also shaved 7 seconds off his 200 IM.

Drew Schieb already qualified after squeezing into WPIALs at the last minute in 2017.

“He's been working so hard and always wants to know what more he can do,” Zweygardt said. “Of everyone in the pool, he's got to be the hardest worker and has such a passion for the sport. It's been awesome this year to see him improve so much in everything.”

The work has paid off. Schieb has qualified for the 200 freestyle, 200 IM, 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 fly.

Jack Lindquist, a regular WPIAL qualifier, seems to have saved his best for last, qualifying for four events, including the 50 and 100 freestyle. His times in the 50 have been the best.

Perhaps no swimmer has grown more than sophomore Matthew Belch, who raised eyebrows by knocking 22 seconds off his time last year in the 500 freestyle, enough to barely squeak through with a WPIAL qualification at the last minute.

This year, he has followed that up by qualifying in four events.

“He's definitely hit a growth spurt,” Zweygardt said. “But these kids that go into high school swimming, they take it more seriously out of season. They're working out constantly, working technique. I think that's a big thing for Matt Belch. He just takes it more seriously, and you can tell.”

Others to watch are sophomore Joe Fish and freshman Ethan Apaliski, who has been posting qualifying times for the 100 breaststroke since early in the season, and Richie Donato. All expect to compete in the WPIAL team relays, as well.

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.


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