Girls steal a victory
Whitehall’s victory over the Northampton girls in their swim meet last Wednesday could have been categorized as unexpected.
But head coach Pete Rile preferred a different description.
“They stole it,” he said.
That watery pilferage could be credited to Whitehall’s strength across the board in matching up against the Kids, a team that Rile said was expected to blow them out of the water.
And while the girls won three only individual events, their true strength lied in their depth as they strung together enough second and third place finishes for the 90-80 victory.
The victory over the Kids gave the girls their ninth win of the season.
Last season when these two teams squared off, it was a raucous affair inside Northampton’s natatorium as the Zephyrs and Kids battled down to the final events. Northampton pulled out wins in both the boys and girls meets, aided by capturing points in diving which paved the way for the conference wins against their Cement Belt rivals.
This year the meet was at Whitehall, and for the Zephyr girls, the victory was a true team heist.
Providing some of that thievery was senior Martha Giletto who swims the anchor leg on their 400 freestyle relay, the final race of the meet. She was also part of the 200 medley relay as well, helping them secure a second-place finish in that pivotal race.
By tallying those six points, Giletto helped ensure that the Zephyrs would pull off that shocker, something she’s been doing all season. She was instrumental in their win against Freedom earlier this season, swimming the anchor in the 400 relay, helping that foursome to a second-place finish, and in the process helping the Zephyrs complete the come-from-behind victory.
Giletto said that hosting this year’s meet against the Kids meant that diving wouldn’t be a deciding factor in anyone’s favor. And while both teams lost some strong swimmers to graduation, she said that Whitehall came into the meet with a strong lineup that was prepared for their rivals.
“They kind of underestimated us, and then we pulled it out,” said Giletto. “It was a shock to all of us, but it was a good shock.”
Giletto closes a lot of their relays, and her races have often decided the outcomes, especially this season. She said that she welcomes that challenge, but acknowledges that the pressure of performing at crunchtime can at times be difficult.
“Sometimes it’s good stress and it makes you go faster,” said Giletto. “And at other times it feels like a mountain.”
She’s accepted that’s how it’s going be this year. It’s part of competing in the sport.
“That’s how swimming is, it’s crazy,” she said.
Giletto has qualified for five district events. She has the 100 butterfly, 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle, and the 200 individual medley.
Last year at districts Giletto swam the 200 IM and the 100 free, and this year she said that she’s looking at those two events again this year.
As for the rest of the year, she wants to build on what she’s accomplished.
“I’m excited to put on my suit and drop some time, and keep going on this season and drop more time for the seeds in districts,” said Giletto.
The boys performance could also be described as unexpected as they secured three individual wins, finishing with 64 points. Northampton topped them, though, earning 101 points. The boys are now 5-8.
Daniel Jablonski won two of those races, finishing first in the 200 freestyle (1:53.06), and first in the 500 freestyle with a 5:08.18 mark.
Jablonski said that the season has been going well. The senior started off the season with a splash, setting two new school records in their meet against Pocono Mountain West. He set the new record in the 200 individual medley (2:03.1), and the 100 backstroke (58.8), breaking his previous marks.
The senior has his eyes set on districts now that the season is winding down. That’s always the goal for every swimmer, and this season he hopes to win the freestyle events for which he’s qualified.
Jablonski has been a fixture at the D-11 meet for his entire swimming career. This year he’s qualified for eight races.
He is also aware of who will present stiff competition among his district peers. However, the D-11 tourney still presents a bit of an unknown, and knows that he must be prepared for all the competitors.
“It’s always hard to guess who swims what every year because some people change events every year,” said Jablonski. “So I have a good idea who’s ahead of me and who’s behind me, and who’s close, but I have no real identification.”
Jablonski’s goal is to make it to states, and with the new rules in place, that road appears to have become more accessible. It’s now going to open up more slots based on times, and while that’s a way forward, he’d rather arrive via the old-fashioned route.
“Winning would be optimal,” Jablonski said.
If he gets in by qualification, that will be all right as well. Still, he feels that those districts who received numerous automatic bids in the past were deserving of those spots based on their merits. They had faster times.
He said that the 500 freestyle is the race that’s the biggest prize among all the races in which he’s qualified. It’s something that eluded him last season after fighting some health issues, and he wants to get back to the times he was seeing in his sophomore season.
As for the season, he’s still focused on setting more school records and dropping his times in all his events. Jablonski said that not having adequate numbers, especially at the start of the season, has impacted their season. They have slowly built those numbers back up, and Jablonski hopes that translates into some wins.
“We have four or five meets left on the calendar, and hopefully we can win those with the boys we have,” said Jablonski.