Trib HSSN boys swimmer of the week: John Guilinger, Central Catholic

Friday, February 14, 2020 | 4:57 PM

John Guilinger began his final varsity swim season at Central Catholic with both peace of mind and added energy after finalizing his decision to attend Penn State during the signing period in November.

Now, three months later, the senior standout, after posting several top swims in numerous individual events and relays, is gearing up for what he hopes is one last run at medal-winning performances at both the WPIAL and PIAA championship meets.

Guilinger again will swim the 100-yard backstroke when the WPIAL Class AAA championships return to Pitt’s Trees Pool in two weeks.

But this year, the multi-time WPIAL and PIAA medalist is switching up his first-day event and will move from the 200 individual medley, where he won fourth- and seventh-place medals the past three seasons, to the 100 fly.

“I’ve been hitting the fly hard the past couple of months of training, and I feel good with what I’ve done in the 100 back,” Guilinger said.

Guilinger placed 10th in the 100 back as a freshman, 13th as a sophomore and moved up to ninth last year. He expects to be in top-eight medal contention this year.

“Both races are going to be very competitive with some of the best swimmers around,” Guilinger said. “They are going to be very fast races. My taper will definitely help me be at my best. I know I can definitely drop time in both from my best times this season.”

Guilinger’s best this season in the 100 back is a 53.48 recorded in a dual meet against Baldwin on Feb. 6. It is the seventh-fastest 100 back time this year in boys Class AAA.

His confidence in a faster swim comes, in part, from his WPIAL performance last year where he clocked a 52.91, just 11 hundredths of a second away from eighth. His all-time best in the 100 back is a 51.83.

Guilinger also owns the seventh-fastest WPIAL Class AAA 100 fly time with a 52.12 recorded against Bethel Park on Jan. 6. He is looking forward to matching up with the field in the 100 fly, and that includes facing North Allegheny senior Branko Kosanovich, his future teammate at Penn State.

Kosanovich finished as the WPIAL runner-up in the 100 fly last year and went on to place fifth at states.

“It’s always great to swim against Branko,” Guilinger said. “We just want to race and have fun.”

Guilinger, who also competes throughout the year with the Mt. Lebanon Aqua Club, is confident he can produce medal-winning swims as part of the Vikings’ 200 free and 400 free relays. Last year, he won a third-place WPIAL medal with the 200 medley relay and added a fifth in the 200 free relay.

At states, the 200 medley relay placed 14th.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at


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