Upper St. Clair’s Matheny chasing state breaststroke record

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Thursday, December 20, 2018 | 8:02 PM


Upper St. Clair sophomore Joshua Matheny cemented his credentials as one of the top young swimmers in the country at the Speedo Winter Junior Championships-East meet Dec. 5-8 in Greensboro, N.C.

Matheny, 16, came in first in the men’s 100-yard breaststroke (52.89 seconds) and 200 breaststroke (1 minute, 55.27 seconds). The West meet was in Austin, Texas.

Over the summer, Matheny placed first in the 100-meter breaststroke (1:01.06) at the Speedo Junior National Championships. He was second in the 200 breaststroke (2:12.69).

He was named to the 2018-19 USA Swimming National Junior Team, which is designed to strengthen the future performance of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team.

“I was determined to try to win both events,” he said. “I didn’t like losing the 200 at summer Junior Nationals.”

In the 200 breaststroke, Matheny downed defending champion Jake Foster of the Mason Manta Rays, of Ohio, who came in second (1:56.01). Matheny also edged Foster (53.20) in the 100 breaststroke.

Matheny placed third in both events in the first round.

Dave Schraven, Matheny’s coach with Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics and the Upper St. Clair High School team, was impressed by Matheny’s performance on a short course.

“Josh tends to be better at long course,” he said. “(He) knew he had his hands full.”

Matheny, who is 6-foot-1, 171 pounds, is shifting his attention to high school swimming.

He aims to break the PIAA record in the 100-yard breaststroke set by Haverford’s Brendan Hansen (53.67) in 2000. Matheny, the defending WPIAL Class AAA and PIAA champion, posted a mark of 54.55 last season.

Hansen went on to earn six medals in three Olympics Games, including three in the 100-meter breaststroke and 200 breaststroke.

Matheny also wants to improve in the 200-yard individual medley, in which he placed eighth in the PIAA (1:53.05), just making the “A” final. He placed third in the WPIAL (1:52.79).

Schraven said Matheny works hard.

“He’s chasing a dream,” Schraven said. “(It is) exciting to be part of it.”

Matheny was one of two southern Allegheny County products who saw action in major meets.

Oakland Catholic graduate Leah Smith, of Mt. Lebanon, made the finals in three events in the FINA World Championships (25 meter) Dec. 11-16 in China.

Smith, a gold medalist in the 800-meter freestyle relay and a bronze medalist in the 400 freestyle in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, placed second in the 800 freestyle relay (7:35.30), third in the 800 freestyle (8:08.75) and fourth in the 400 freestyle (3:58.58).

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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