Trib HSSN Girls Swimmer of the Week: Laurel Highlands’ Elizabeth Thomas

Friday, January 31, 2020 | 5:28 PM

At last year’s WPIAL Class AA swimming championships at Pitt’s Trees Pool, Elizabeth Thomas was one of two freshmen to medal in the girls 100-yard backstroke.

Quaker Valley’s Isabel Huang captured the WPIAL title, and Thomas, a Laurel Highlands product, placed fourth with a time of 1 minute, 1.58 seconds and qualified for states.

With that first year of high school experience under her belt, Thomas, first-year Fillies coach Casey Dascenzo said, is making her mark and looking forward to taking that next step at WPIALs and beyond.

“She’s a very calm and relaxed swimmer,” Dascenzo said. “She doesn’t let the pressure of a big swim get to her. She gets in the water, does her thing, and what happens, happens.

“We already have her goal times for WPIALs. She’s definitely happy with her times now, and she’s in a good spot to go even faster at WPIALs. She has that confidence to where she will be well prepared for her WPIAL swims.”

Thomas owns the top WPIAL girls Class AA time this year in the 100 backstroke. She recorded a 57.80, bettering her own school record, Wednesday evening in a Section 4 meet against Indiana.

“She takes it out very aggressively,” Dascenzo said. “Her underwaters are phenomenal. Off her start, she could go almost the length of the pool underwater.”

Thomas’ previous best time this year in the 100 back came in a section meet Jan. 17 against Derry. She swam a 58.46 and edged Ella Menear, a freshman independent swimmer from Mapletown.

Menear clocked a 59.29 that evening and is No. 2 in the 100 back on the latest WPIAL performance list released Monday.

Thomas and Menear have raced several times before and are expected to battle again in the fast heat at WPIALs.

“That really helps both because they know each other’s talents,” Dascenzo said. “They push each other to better their times.”

The top five swims this season in the Class AA girls 100 back have come from either freshmen or sophomores. SaraJo Gardner, a freshman from Mt. Pleasant, is No. 3 on the performance list (1:00.22), followed by Huang (1:00.41) and Mt. Pleasant freshman Reegan Brown (1:00.90).

Dascenzo said Thomas, who also swims as a member of the Fox Chapel Killer Whales club team, still is deciding on which WPIAL first-day individual event to enter.

“She swam very strong in the (200 individual medley) against Indiana,” Dascenzo said. “She’s qualified in a number of events. She has options, which is nice.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .


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