LEAPING INTO THE STATE MEET
Local swimmers and divers take in, compete at NYS meet in Ithaca
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » More than 40 Section II swimmers and six divers will once again join forces at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association meet at Ithaca College Friday and Saturday where the number of competitors is large, the room for the top swimmers is small and the best times are low.
Expectations range from just happy to make the state meet, often for the first time for several Saratoga Springs High School seniors, to looking to make their mark as underclassmen and for the cagy veterans from Ballston Spa, now is the time to strike.
Swimmers and divers had the entire fall season to reach the state qualifying times or diving marks with a deadline of the Section II meet two weeks ago at the Shenendehowa Aquatics Center in Clifton Park.
Blue Streak freshman Madeline Wood needed the last swim of her fall in the section to make the state team and it did it by a fingernail.
“Going into the meet I can usually tell how my swims are going to go, but honestly that one I had no idea how it
was going to go,” Madeline Wood said. “All my friends were all saying I can do it.”
She swam the 50-yard freestyle in 24.82 seconds, making the state qualifying time of 24.84 seconds.
“When I looked up, turned around and saw Coach (Josh Muldner) cheering and I looked up at my time, it was so exciting, I was so happy.”
The current top New York State time is an eyepopping automatic AllAmerica time of 22.92 seconds.
Going to the state meet for the first time and being ranked 45th, Wood is O.K. looking up at the faster times.
“Going into sectionals I knew I would have a pretty good chance at making ‘A’ finals and placing, but knowing that I’m most likely not going to do that (at states) it calms me down so much that I don’t have to worry about it,” Wood said. “I want to perform well, but there is no pressure.”
Sophomore Rachel Love is making her second trip to the state meet, this year in the 200- and 500-freestyle events, ranked 22nd in both events this weekend.
Her expectations are tempered because she wasn’t sure if she would even qualify this season.
She had hip surgery in
March to repair torn cartilage and a bone overgrowth.
“With states you’re not trained as well because I hadn’t already qualified so I tapered for sectionals, so coming into states, my training is not as good as it was for sectionals,” Rachel Love said. “I would like to be close to those times that I had and if I do that I would be in the finals which would be great.”
She also has sage advice for those first-time state competitors.
“Take it all in because it is such a cool meet to be at, there are all these really fast girls that are racing there,” Love said. “You are united as a section, instead of being on separate teams, so it is really good to get support from other teams, get to know the other girls from other teams and even other sections. “
Two first-time Blue Streaks include senior divers Adelle Feeley and Renee Maslak.
Maslak earned 444 points early in the fall, just above the 440 state mark to start thinking about this weekend.
“It allowed me not to stress as much for the other bigger dive meets and just focus on perfecting the dives that I had,” Renee Maslak said. “It was definitely a pleasant surprise.
“I didn’t come into this season with any expectations; i was just here to hang out with the girls and have fun and to dive.”
Not being a year-round diver, Maslak made the most of her final year competing for the Blue Streaks.
“My confidence really went up this year compared to past years and just cherishing every practice with the girls because I knew this season was my last, so I just wanted to make it my best and have fun and put it all out there.”
Teammate Adelle Feeley focused on her craft throughout the summer to reach her qualifying mark, ranked No. 14 heading into the meet Friday.
“I went to two dive camps this summer so I’ve been working a lot and at 11-dive meets I hadn’t had my best meets,” Adelle Feeley said. “Something weird just kept happening and I would be upset about it, as coach kept telling me ‘Trust the process.’
“I just kept working harder and harder and finally I got to where I wanted to go.”
She registered 485 points at the sectional meet, knowing she was heading for a top score late in the day.
“I try not to though because it kind of messes with my mental state,” Feeley said. “Before the last three dives since there was a break, (Coach) Dave (Longbrake) tells me where I am around or sometimes they have it on the board so I can see and have an idea where I am.
“My last three are actually my favorite dives, so even though they are a little bit harder I’m the most confident in them. If I don’t have some major mess-up in my first few I know the last three are going to be where I need them to be and I have confidence in it.”
Now it’s time to dive and thrive for the Saratoga senior.
“It’s pretty exciting just to experience it, I’m excited to take it all in and just have fun.” Feeley said. “The girls who have gone have told me about.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking because I want to do as well as I can, but I’m just going to try and have fun.”
Ballston Spa sends to seasoned state meet veterans on the Section II bus in juniors Emma Hoffman and Corinne Pepper with nine state events under their belt.
Ranked in the middle of the pack in both the 100and 200-yard freestyle events and making her fourth trip, Emma Hoffman is comfortable with her expectations.
“Now you want to see what you can do, how high you can place, obviously you want to swim on Saturday,” Emma Hoffman said. “If it is Friday, it’s your last swim of the season, so you just give it all you’ve got.
“I don’t like to put limits on my swims, so I’ve just been practicing, pacing, race strategy, so hopefully I’ll be able to drop that much time at states.”
Hoffman also had sage advice for people outside the sport and to temper their own expectations of what success is in the pool.
“Someone told me today ‘If you don’t win, it’s for nothing,’ and I don’t believe that’s true obviously,” Hoffman said. “Only five percent of swimmers even qualify for states, being there is an accomplishment in itself. There are elite swimmers and there are those that are really fast there too, so it’s all about perspective.”
Her teammate, Corinne Pepper will be taking her fifth trip to the state meet with her close Scotties teammate, Hoffman who finished 2-3 in the 100-freestyle.
“She’s like one of my best friends, so getting to share this with her is amazing,” Corrine Pepper said.
“It never gets old. I really enjoy the whole atmosphere because everyone just wants to cheer each other on for everyone to swim fast. The section is one team, all the different schools come together to cheer each other on, so I really like that you are not divided.”
Pepper has balanced her excitement with her expectations through the years.
“Junior year is very important for college and all the college coaches are watching you, so there is pressure to perform well, but not as much as if it’s it your first year,” Pepper said. “I definitely want to make at least ‘C’ finals because the time I went at sectionals was not my absolute best time. Coach (Ted) Snyder thinks I can go 1:06 so hopefully I can make the ‘B’ final.”
Swimming gets underway at 10:30 a.m. Friday; diving finals are set for 2 p.m. with the championship finals set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The event is streamed via the NFHS Network, subscription required.
Saratoga Springs divers Renee Maslak and Adelle Feeley and swimmers Madeline Wood and Rachel Love leap inot the Skidmore College pool at their final practice before the state meet Friday at Ithaca College.
NYSPHSAA swimming and diving met veterans, Ballston Spa swimmers Emma Hoffman and Corrine Pepper stopped by the Skidmore College pool before Friday’s meet at Ithaca College.
Saratoga Springs swimmers and divers Madeline Wood, Rachel Wood, Renee Maslak and Adelle Feeley hang out on the board at Skidmore College Wednesday afternoon.