Lincoln swim team making the best of first season

Nearly 30 athletes turn out
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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During its first season in the water, the Lincoln High School swim team is stirring things up for the future. Although not yet ready to claim a Pioneer Valley League title, the Fighting Zebras are well past just treading water.

When head coach Lori Stanley decided to take the plunge and field a swim team for the local prep school, she wasn’t sure just what kind of turn out she would get. She was pleasantly surprised there was more enthusiasm among the Zebras than she first thought.

“It has exceeded our expectations,” Stanley said. “I expected maybe 14 or 15 like committed swimmers but we have a solid 27.”

So solid, in fact, the coach said she has a waiting list; however, she was unable to include new swimmers late in the season. She said the future looks quite bright for Lincoln aquatics in spite of the head start other PVL schools have had with their programs.

Senior Adam Selter said he made a promise to himself he would be a part of the team should the Zebras form one. In spite of it being his final season, he kept that promise.

“I always wanted to swim at a higher level than just casually swimming,” Selter said. “I see quite a bit of (team) development; we’re learning quite a bit.”

The 17-year-old was one of only eight boys to sign up and just five of the swimming Zebras are seniors. Selter was among the most improved on the team going from 50.5 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle to 38.91.

Two other seniors, Erika Cruz and Lilly Kinsley were also among those showing great improvement in the 50-freestyle. Cruz went from 50.1 to 39.0 and Kinsley dropped from 42.6 to 37.9.

Beyond that, many of Lincoln’s first-year swimmers are juniors, sophomores and even freshmen.

In fact, the Zebras’ top swimmer in the 100-freestyle is freshman Samantha Whitworth.

“For me, I was shocked at how much talent we have,” said Whitworth, who has been a longtime club swimmer. “They’ve improved so much. That’s what we hope to get moving so we can feel like other high schools, so we can fit in with the other people in the league.”

Lincoln was a welcome addition to the PVL as it filled out a six-team schedule. Whereas one team had to accept a bye each week, this year all six squads were able to compete without having to sit out a week.

Other improved swimmers were sophomores Hannah Ruiz in the 100-backstroke (1:49.43 to 1:41.9), Danny Herbert in the 100 breaststroke (1:46.7 to 1:32.08) and Alec Cox in the 200-freestyle (3:20.19 to 3:01.00).

Lincoln’s best times among the girls were juniors Michaela Ellis (1:34.20, 100-breast) and sophomores Corrine Linke (29.52, 50-free), Shelby Daniels (29.87, 50-free and 1:16.28, 100-back) and Barbara Gachet (1:26.63, 100-butterfly).

Whitworth’s time in the 100-free was 1:07.82.

Juniors Alex Daniels and Brian Berger were among the fastest swimmers for the boys. Daniels time was 24.71 in the 50-free and 57:71 in the 100-free. Berger clocked 1:01.77 in the 100-fly and 2:17.37 in the 200-yard individual medley.

Sophomore Evan Deathrage holds the top time of 1:21.89 in the 100-breast.

“It’s been a long time coming and we are all very, very grateful for all the support,” Stanley said of the school and community involvement. “It’s just been above and beyond anything we expected for our first year.”

Assisting Stanley was Sarah Berger, whose son Brian Berger was among the team’s four swimmers that could qualify for sections.

The PVL Championships are this Friday and Saturday at Bear River High School.