Mar 27, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
Five members of the Skaneateles girls varsity swimming and diving team met at the YMCA pool on Tuesday, March 20, to officially mark the team records they accomplished during this year’s season. Each of the athletes climbed a ladder to place the last letter of their last names next to their records on the Lakers swimming team record board.
“It’s a tradition for us to have the girls come and put up their last letter themselves in the spring,” said team coach Jill King. “This is a perfect ending to a great season.”
The Lakers had an exceptional season in 2011, winning their third consecutive Section III Class C championship (and their sixth in nine years), diver Kaela Fiutak competed in the state competition (the first Skaneateles diver ever to do so), and Coach Jill King was named Section III coach of the year by her peers (for the second time).
Team members also set six new school records this year, five by individuals and one team relay. With the 2011 records added, the swim team’s record board now has two records by Kaela Fiutak, four records by Nikki Cole, and six by Rachel DeWitt.
“Nobody’s ever had six records before,” King said of DeWitt’s achievement.
This year, DeWitt set records in the 100-meter back stroke and as part of the 200-meter medley relay team. She already had records in the 200-meter individual medley, 500-meter freestyle, 200-meter free relay and 400-meter free relay.
Senior Kaela Fiutak set two records this year for 1-meter diving: six dives and 11 dives.
Junior Nikki Cole came close to DeWitt’s omnispresence on the records board with five of her own, including two this year: one for the 100-meter breast stroke and as part of the 200-meter medley relay team. Cole already has records in the 100-meter butterfly, as a member of the 400-meter free relay, 200-meter free relay and 200-meter medley relay teams.
Junior Emily Wirth and freshman Haley Buchholz each set one record this year as part of the 200-meter medley relay team.
In addition to the swimming records, seniors Fiutak and DeWitt also recently were named Academic All-Americans, the result of their high academic as well as athletic achievements. To qualify, a student must maintain a 93.7 average for seven semesters of high school and be a member of the swim team at the varsity level.
“Sports has always helped me focus,” DeWitt said, knowing that homework has to get done in order to have time for sport practices and matches. “You have to have an end goal in mind and remember where you are and where you are headed.”
Fiutak agreed. “It definitely is about time management,” she said. “You know you need time for practices and meets, and you don’t want to be up late doing homework and not get a good sleep. It really cuts down on procrastination.”
Both Fiutak and DeWitt were excited to place their letters on the record board at the YMCA pool.
“It’s pretty great. Hopefully they will stay up there for a while. It’s nice leaving a legacy,” said Fiutak, who will attend Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., next year and participate on the indoor track team as a pole vaulter — a sport for which she also went to states for Skaneateles this year.
“It’s bittersweet because records are made to be broken,” said DeWitt, who has not yet decided on a college for next year, but said she definitely plans to swim and row crew wherever she goes. “This has been such a great year.”
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my senior year,” Fiutak agreed.
Coach King said 2011 was a great season, and as much as she has high hopes for the swimmers next year, she is also is sad to see seniors Fiutak and DeWitt leave.
“They are two of the most impactful swimmers we’ve ever had,” King said. “They are both also outstanding students and very involved in the school. I love that they are all-around people, and to me that is the best quality about them.”
Also leaving the team this year is senior Katherine Hirsch, who started as a swimmer then transitioned into a diver. “As a diver Katherine made great strides and scored points for the team in all the dual meets,” King said. “Katherine was a great teammate to the girls on the team. She is a wonderful young lady who will be missed.”
King said she “feels good” about next year’s team, which will be filled with many young swimmers. She will give all her athletes the advice she usually offers, which is they don’t have to specialize only in one sport or one activity, they just need to focus on whatever it is they are working to achieve.
“My advice to the girls is to get the most out of high school you can, because you can’t go back,” King said.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.