WPIAL swimming committee lowers qualifying times for championship meets

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 | 8:37 PM

The WPIAL swimming committee met Tuesday afternoon, and the group agreed to establish faster automatic qualifying standards for the WPIAL championship meets.

The championships tentatively are set for the week of March 1, but it remains uncertain if the event will be held at Pitt’s Trees Pool or moved to other locations in the region, said committee chairman Jamie Morton, a teacher in the Moon School District.

Indoor gatherings are limited to a percentage of capacity under statewide covid-19 restrictions. The plan to reduce the qualifying times initially gained legs with approval during an online WPIAL board meeting Nov. 16.

“We are trying to keep it within the range where we can meet these facility classifications for size limits,” Morton said. “We just don’t know where the meets will be held. If it’s held at Pitt, we don’t know how many we can have in the facility until Pitt gives us their numbers.

“Everybody knows there still is so many variables, so many moving parts. How do you try to plan for something you can’t really make plans for? We did kick around a lot of ideas.”

Morton said the hope is that once a group of automatic qualifiers is set for each event, the WPIAL will be able to expand those numbers and fill heats based on the allowances of the host facility.

“We made the times challenging so we could be in a position to expand out rather than having to push backwards and reduce the number (of entries),” Morton said.

“I think we accomplished that by putting the times where we did. Our goal is to always try to get as many kids in there as we can. This all is assuming that, in the end, we are able to have the meet. That goes back to the uncertainty of everything.”

The WPIAL board, Morton said, will take a look on Monday, and the times tentatively will be released on the WPIAL website Tuesday.

“Initially, it might be a bit of a surprise when people see the times because they are fast,” Morton said.

As far as WPIAL diving is concerned, with Class AA and AAA on different days and the boys and girls competitions at different times each day, the logistics, Morton said, are more conducive to keeping the status quo.

North Allegheny is scheduled to host the meets Feb. 26-27.

“We don’t usually get as many diving qualifiers as we do in all of the swimming events,” Morton said. “Since diving is a subjective sport in terms of scoring and point totals, it’s more difficult to make changes. At this point, we don’t really anticipate a whole lot of changes with the diving qualifying.”

Swimming and diving and other high school sports resume competition Friday. Gov. Tom Wolf’s three-week shutdown of athletic activities as part of overall mitigation efforts to slow the covid-19 spread came to a end Monday morning, and athletes and teams have resumed practices.

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

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