Leadership, enthusiasm lift Hampton girls swimming

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Thursday, January 10, 2019 | 8:00 PM


The Hampton girls swimming team is off to the races in 2019, and it hopes by the end of the year, everyone will have at least one star.

While the team took a tough loss Jan. 9 to slide to 2-3, individual breakthroughs slowly are coming to the surface. Win or lose, the camaraderie is shining through.

“From a team perspective, this season is much more positive,” senior Lia Appel said.

Senior leader Ava Retsch came up with a clever idea to celebrate swimmers who show leadership, things like demonstrating a positive attitude and encouraging others to act the same.

Each swimmer writes the name of a teammate on a star and what that swimmer did to make her proud.

“It’s a really nice way of showing how everyone on the team is appreciated,” Appel said. “And it motivates us to do our best.”

Appel qualified for WPIALs in the 100 breaststroke in the Jan. 9 meet against North Allegheny. Additionally, sophomore Catie Kress, who is looking to crack the top 10 in WPIALs this year in 500 freestyle, qualified last month.

“We’ve got some girls that are off by less than a second,” coach Morgan Zweygardt said. “The qualifying times get faster as the season goes on.”

Additionally, the girls relay teams are coming together. The 400-yard freestyle relay team consists of Appel, Cress, junior Rosy Oh and another performer based on performance merits alone.

“I think for the relays it’s all about motivating each other and finding it in ourselves to push through after our own individual races,” Oh said. “So I’m most excited to see what the 400 freestyle relay can become once we all train our 100 freestyles.”

Underclassmen such as Cress and freshmen Belle Donato and Danielle Sutterlin are contributing to the team scores immediately and showing enthusiasm, something with which Appel, a four-year WPIAL qualifier, can identify.

“High school swim meets are still new to them, and it’s nice to see the excitement that they have for their events,” she said. “Because I felt the same way when I first began my freshman year. I look forward to seeing how they progress as athletes.”

Oh has found herself growing more confident in a leadership role.

“I feel like taking responsibility came naturally,” she said. “I’m so grateful that the team is responsive to my attempts. I wouldn’t have been able to take on such a role if it wasn’t for my peers encouraging me to be the best that I can be for the team.”

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.

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