The New York State Public High School swimming championships are back, and 13 area swimmers are making the trip, many of them making a return trip.
The last NYSPHSAA championship meet was in 2019, and all state championships were canceled during the 2020-21 school year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The event will return to Ithaca College Friday and Saturday.
“I’m very excited,” said Pine Bush’s Elishka Hajek, who won sectional championships in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles. She also swam on the Bushmen’s 200- and 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
Hajek is one of four individual swimmers from the area – and one of two from Pine Bush. Hajek is ranked third in the state in the 50 and sixth in the 100-yard freestyle.
Her teammate, Mackenzie Gula, is a section champion in the 200-yard individual medley and a member of the 200-yard medley and the 400-yard freestyle relay teams.
Gula posted her state qualifying time in the 200-yard individual medley on Sept. 11 and is currently ranked 24th. However, she plans to swim the 100-yard butterfly and the 100-yard breaststroke at the state meet, as she can only swim two individual events, along with the two relays.
Statewide, Gula is ranked 20th in the breaststroke and 23rd in the butterfly.
Sadie DeGeorge, attending her first state meet will swim the 200-yard individual medley.
Pine Bush’s 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays are each ranked third in the state and the 200-yard medley relay is ranked eighth.
“I’m hoping a couple of our relays are in the top five in states, or maybe even better,” Pine Bush coach John Barth said. “I’m hoping Elishka, and Mackenzie make the finals. I’m hoping for a good statement.”
Combine them with the three relay teams, about nine Pine Bush swimmers are going to states. Ashley Martin, and Katie Webster also are going for the first time.
“It’s very exciting,” Hajek said. “Two years ago, we might have had a similar amount of girls, so it’s very exciting. I think, as a team, we’re all very excited, and we want to show what Pine Bush can bring. We’re there to race.”
Rian Dickman will represent Valley Central in the 200-yard freestyle, where she won a Section 9 championship, and in the 100-yard freestyle, where she finished third. White hit the state qualifying mark in the 100-yard freestyle during the sectional preliminaries.
Dickman is ranked 24th in the 200 and 38th in the 100 statewide. White is ranked 50th in the state in the 100-yard freestyle.
They will both be on the 200- and 400-yard relay teams with teammates Grace Wienckowski and Grace Satriano.
The Vikings’ 400-yard relay team is ranked 23rd in the state and the 200-yard freestyle relay team is ranked 26th.
“We were after the school record in the two relays, but we’ve got another shot,” Valley Central coach Scott Warner said. “We’re still alive to do it at states and they get another chance to go for it and put their name on the record board.”
For some, the state meet is a familiar experience, but several of the area’s swimmers are going for the first time and will find a meet like no other they’ve experienced during the regular season.
“It’s very fun,” Hajek said. “It’s a whole new environment. It’s a very big pool. It’s a nice pool. The girls up there are super fast. Everyone wants to win up there. Everyone’s working very hard to try to be the top. Everyone has goals, and I think they all really want it.”