Saturday was a day of mixed emotions for the Gettysburg swimming teams during the second day of the District 3 Championships at Cumberland Valley High School.
There was the elation of success, as well as the happiness of improvement along the way. However, there was a little bit of what could have been for the Warriors.
For starters, senior Hannah Brainard dropped nearly a second off her seed time in the 2A girls 100-yard freestyle and earned her second silver medal of the weekend with a 52.67.
While her swim was terrific, it was a little bittersweet for Brainard, who is chasing the Gettysburg program record of 52.24 set by former Warriors star Trish Weaner.
“I’m happy about my 100-freestyle time. I think it’s my best time of all,” said Brainard. “It’s frustrating because I am only (.4) off that school record. I hit the wall and saw 52.6 and was like, ‘Oh, so close.’”
Still, Brainard will most likely have another shot at the school mark. Her time should qualify her for the PIAA Championships, March 18-19 at Bucknell University, where a good enough preliminary swim at states could lead to a second swim.
“I am excited for another shot at that record, or just to swim it one more time,” she said.
The 2A girls session finished with the Warriors’ 400 freestyle relay team reaching the podium. Morgan Bishop, Katie Ketterman, Maya Brainard and Hannah Brainard combined to swim a 3:56.24 to earn a seventh-place medal.
“We were not expecting that one,” Hannah Brainard said. “I think we knew we had a shot. We are proud of ourselves. It’s been fun.”
In the 3A boys competition, Gettysburg junior Sam Nelson dropped more than a second off his seed time to place sixth in the 500 freestyle with a time of 4:49.22.
“I am really happy how I performed,” Nelson said. “It was all of my other teammates. We all worked really hard this year. The guys did great. The girls did really well and I’m really proud of everybody.”
Yet, here is where the “What ifs” come in.
For the last two seasons, the Warriors boys have been in 3A, where it is much harder going up against larger schools the likes of Wilson, Hershey, Cumberland Valley and many more.
For example, Nelson’s time would have earned him a silver medal — less than four seconds from gold — if Gettysburg’s boys were 2A. Plus, he likely would have qualified for states in 2A, while his time is on the bubble to see if he can reach Bucknell in 3A.
“I know that AA is a lot different than AAA, but I am still really proud of everybody. Even though the boys are in a much more difficult classification,” Nelson said. “If I don’t make states, I will work even harder over the summer to make it next year.”
Warriors coach Amanda Turner knows the different classes cost her team some district hardware, but that is just one of those things.
“At counties, our boys did medal at 11 out of 12 events, which goes to show the depth we had on the boys side this year, which was really tremendous,” she said. “We had a lot of people step up, work harder than we expected and do better than we thought.
“Looking at the AA boys results we would have been present and had medals all the way through for them. Being AAA means we have to push harder and have to get better.”
Based on enrollment of each gender, the Gettysburg girls will also bump up to 3A next season.
“We have to look at it as a challenge and next year the girls bump up to AAA, so they are going to have that challenge,” said Turner. “We are going to have to figure out how to get double practices and more work without a pool in our high school. We will do something. The challenge is there and we will do what we can to meet it.”
Still, Turner remains quite proud of everything her teams accomplished this season.
“We have great swimmers on both teams,” she said. “We have a lot of new swimmers on the girls team and it was great the recognition they got to go to districts. We had a lot of new girls that did tremendous things and keep improving.”
Second quality swim for Elliott
Bermudian Springs junior Kate Elliott earned her second district medal of the weekend on Saturday when her 100 breaststroke time of 1:08.14 was good for fifth in girls’ 2A.
Elliott was candid about her experience at her first PIAA District 3 competition following her family’s move from Virginia.
“I was a little overconfident when I first moved here because I expected it to be similar to Virginia where this level wouldn’t be as competitive,” she said. “I kind of got a reality check in my first high school meet. I was like ‘dang, I have some pretty good competition.’”
Now Elliott, who dropped .72 off her seed time, is looking at the chance to improve.
“I didn’t know if I was going to place well at districts, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get to states or not,” she said. “But being able to place in districts is really awesome. At first it was like darn, it won’t be as easy. But it’s more of an opportunity to get faster.”
Other Gettysburg finishes from Saturday: Ketterman placed 24th in the 100 free (1:02.04). . . Hannah Green tied for 17th in the 500 free (6:01.41). . . Bishop 18th (1:10.70) and Addy Dunlop 20th (1:11.97) in the 100 backstroke. . . Maya Brainard (1:15.41) and Natalie Hurwitch (1:18.25) were 15th and 20th, respectively, in the 100 breaststroke.
On the 3A boys’ side, Zach Turner was 13th in the 100 free (48.71) and Zach Tipton 19th in the 100 breast (1:01.91).