Trib HSSN girls swimmer of the week: South Fayette’s Abbie Duncan

Thursday, January 9, 2020 | 7:30 PM

Abbie Duncan sees the potential for a memorable final season with the South Fayette swim team.

The Lions senior committed to swim in college at Ohio University, and she finalized her decision during the national letter of intent signing period in November.

Now, with six weeks of preparation remaining until WPIALs, Duncan, last year’s WPIAL Class AAA runner-up in the girls 100-yard backstroke, is making sure she’s not slowing down in her search for top finishes and times.

Duncan and her South Fayette teammates got a good look at where they stood entering the new year at the annual West Allegheny Invitational on Dec. 28.

She won the 100 back with a top time of 1 minute, 0.97 seconds, secured a victory in the 200 free (2:00.71) and was part of the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.

The Lions girls team won the team title for the second year in a row.

“It’s definitely one of the meets I look forward to at the start of the season,” Duncan said. “It’s one of our first big meets. It’s fun being there with my teammates and working together to win as a team again. When we did, we were all super pumped. It helped us start the rest of the season on a positive note.”

Duncan said there are several more opportunities for strong competition over the remainder of the regular season leading up to WPIALs.

She pointed to Thursday’s section meet with Moon and a potential head-to-head matchup with Tigers junior Innocende Patterson.

Duncan finished as the runner-up in the girls Class AAA 100 backstroke at last year’s WPIAL championship. She finished with a time of 56.07, edging Patterson by 61 hundredths of a second.

North Allegheny’s Victoria Buerger is the defending WPIAL champion in the event.

“The 100 back at WPIALs will again be one of the most intense races because there are so many good girls in the WPIAL,” Duncan said. “My goal, obviously, is to get first, but I know there is so much tough competition out there. It’s always fun to race against all of those girls.”

Duncan went on to place sixth in the 100 back at Bucknell University. She lowered her WPIAL time by more than a half-second to 55.70.

In December, Duncan swam the 100 back at the Speedo Junior Nationals in Atlanta and was right on her rested and tapered time from last March’s state meet.

“That was nice to see that early in the season,” said Duncan, who hopes to go fast enough in the event to earn a spot at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in June. “It was encouraging to know I can get faster from that.”

Duncan said she is not yet sure if she will return to the 200 freestyle — she placed fifth at WPIALs and 15th at states in the event last year — or switch over to the 100 free and tackle two individual events in one day.

“I still have to talk to my coach about it,” Duncan said.

South Fayette coach Matt Tucker said he’s confident in Duncan’s abilities no matter what events she swims at WPIALs.

“Abbie is just really bearing down and training hard right now,” he said. “She’s passed several early tests that has her confident and motivated.”

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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