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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 23, 2008

Guilderville girls’ swimming is youthful and competitive

By Jordan J. Michael

BALLSTON SPA –– Losing a swim meet by one point is uncommon in the sport. “It’s definitely a rare occurrence,” said the Guilderville girls’ swim coach, Brenna Autrey.

Guilderville lost to Ballston Spa, 92 to 93, on Tuesday. “There has been really close meets all year long in the Suburban Council,” said Autrey. “This was hard to swallow. It bothered me and I’m sure it bothered some of my girls.”

Guilderville would have won the meet if one of the swimmers out-touched a Scotties’ swimmer in any of the 12 events. Autrey said that she needs to be very careful with her words when she addresses the team about the one-point loss. “I don’t want to be a downer as we head toward sectionals,” she said.

Autrey already has 20 swimmers and divers qualified for the sectional competition. The team is made up of swimmers from both Voorheesville and Guilderland; only Voorheesville has a pool. Freshman Jenna Bickel is a state qualifier in the 100-meter backstroke, getting the bid in the first meet of the season. Bickel is ranked second in Section II and sixth in the state for backstroke.

“Bickel’s season won’t end until the weekend before Thanksgiving,” said Autrey. “She’s a pleasure to coach because she always wants to do better. She’s constantly striving to improve her technique, one that looks pretty darn good already.”

The state meet is being held in Buffalo at Erie Community College on Nov. 20 through 22. Bickel is close to qualifying in the 100-meter freestyle as well. Senior Captain Erin Dewey is very close to states in the 100-meter backstroke and Reynalyn Canchela is not far off in the 100-meter butterfly.

“We’re a young team but we look extraordinary in the pool,” said Dewey. “We have to open our eyes and look at the bigger picture, which is the sectionals. Almost all of us will be there and I expect us to do well.”

Guilderville is currently 4-6 on the season, after the loss to Ballston Spa. The team has beat Albany, Albany Academy, Mohonasen-Schalmont, and Amsterdam. It has lost to Saratoga, Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills, Shaker, and Niskayuna.

“The Suburban Council has some really tough swimming teams,” Autrey said. “We have a really hard time competing against Burnt Hills, Shen, Bethlehem, and Saratoga.  We lost meets to Shaker, Ballston Spa, and Niskayuna, which we shouldn’t have done.”

Bickel, Dewey, Canchela, and Kaylee Barr got Tuesday’s meet off to a great start with a first place finish in the 200-medley relay with a time of 2:00.50. Jackie Cunningham took second in the 200 Freestyle and Dewey grabbed first place in the 200 individual medley.

Guilderville had a 27-to-18 lead after three events.

Corinne Chatnik, Kara Goodknight, Jaclyn Levy, Alexa Patnaude, and Kristi Russell were the divers against the Scotties in the fifth event. Ballston Spa took the lead, 42 to 35, after sweeping the top three spots.

“All the divers have done well this year. Each of us have posted top scores this year,” said senior Captain Chatnik. “Losing to Ballston Spa was tough, but most of us are going to sectionals. We’re excited.”

Bickel and Nicole Das took first and second in the 100-meter freestyle to regain the lead for Guilderville. Then, Brittany Ginsburg captured first in the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 5:49.68.

“The meet was back and forth the whole night. My team had decent performances,” said Autrey. “I think my girls may have looked a little sluggish. Some of my swimmers said the water was warm, when it should have been cold. Pools should always have cold water during meets.”

Bickel and Dewey placed first and second in the 100-meter backstroke to give Guilderville a 79-to-76 lead. Bickel, Das, Dewey, and Canchela managed to take first place in the last event, the 400-meter freestyle relay. However, it wasn’t enough to claim a team victory.

“Things have changed a lot since last year. We’re a different team with different abilities, but the spirit is always there,” Dewey said. “We always fight for the better spot and try to do the best we can. We’re always the loudest group, cheering each other on.”

Making a splash

Brenda Goodknight is the Guilderville diving coach and also the varsity gymnastics coach. Gymnasts are naturally good divers and the two sports are similar.

“Even though people relate diving and gymnastics, there is a difference,” said Chatnik. “Diving involves more control and gymnastics requires more strength. Higher difficulty dives can be a little nervewracking, too.”

Autrey likes the fact that Goodknight can recruit divers from the gymnastics team. “It’s relatively easy for these athletes to transfer skills once they learn the timing on the board,” said Autrey. “It’s been fun to watch some of the great scores they’ve posted this year.  It’s impossible to say who is the top diver.”

Each dive has a different level of difficulty. The dives are scored based on height, distance, and appearance to the eye. “You have to be very elegant on the board,” Chatnik said.

The Guilderland and Voorheesville girls get along well even though there are only two swimmers and one diver from Voorheesville on the team (Cunningham, Kelsey Saba, and Yvonne Cardinal).

“It’s sad. I wish I had more girls from Voorheesville,” said Autrey. “I hear there are some younger ones coming up through the ranks. I need to be patient for them to get old enough to participate.  Naturally, Guilderland will have more participants because of the size of the school.”

Guilderville is made of both new and old participants. The team will only lose two to graduation this year –– Chatnik and Dewey. Autrey says that the returners have had a great influence on the newer girls.

The team has seven new swimmers and three new divers, some of them making a quick impact. “Kara Goodknight – one of the divers – has scored points for us right from the beginning of the season,” Autrey said. “As far as swimmers, Nicole Das immediately became one of our go-to girls for points.

The coach says that losing Dewey to graduation will be tough since she has been ont the Guilderville team for six seasons. “I can throw her in any race and know she’s going to score points for us,” Autrey said. “I look to her for leadership and sharing techniques and ideas with the other swimmers.”

Guilderville has two meets left, against Bethlehem and Mohonasen. The sectionals take place Nov. 6 through the 8 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“My girls always want the best times, but the competitiveness will increase during sectionals,” said Autrey. “This sport can get quite individual.”

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