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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 29, 2009

Guilderville swim team is humbled, Bickel to swim in state meet

By Jordan J. Michael

Winning isn’t everything when it comes to swimming in a pool. The Guilderville girls’ swim team is happy either way.

After suffering its sixth straight loss to Bethlehem on Oct. 20 –– the score was 84-100 –– Guilderville won two consecutive meets over Troy and Albany. The team is 4-6 heading into sectionals on Nov. 5.

“The goal was to get about 80 percent of the team to sectionals and we’re close to that,” said Head Coach Brenna Autrey on Oct. 20 at Bethlehem. “We’ve been in a tough stretch against powerhouse teams. The Suburban Council is strong and it’s hard to get wins. I’ve been happy with our progress, even if we lose the meets.”

The biggest presence for Guilderville in the 2009 season is sophomore Jenna Bickel. She is ranked second in the state in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 59.01 and 17th in the state in the 50-meter freestyle with a mark of 25.22. Bickel will be attending the state meet for both events.

“I can tell Bickel to go beat someone and she’ll do it on command,” Autrey said. “She is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. She’s got talent within herself and she’s still so young. The rest of the team doesn’t truly realize how good of a swimmer she is. Division I all the way for her if she keeps this up.”

“I get really nervous about my races, but my teammates are really supportive,” said Bickel after winning the 100 backstroke easily at Bethlehem with a time of 59.19. “We all help each other swim with confidence.”

Bickel was supposed to go against her toughest competition in the backstroke at Bethlehem, but Tara O’Donnell was pulled from the race at the last minute for unknown reasons.

 “I doubt that she could of beat Bickel and I think her coach realized that reality,” said Autrey.

“I don’t know why O’Donnell was pulled and it had me confused,” Bickel said. “I guess it was kind of a relief though.”

Bickel posted a 59.80 against Troy and a 1:00.25 against Albany in the 100 backstroke to take first place at both meets. Bickel has been first in backstroke at every meet this season.

“I’ve been setting my levels high and swimming in the off-season,” said Bickel. “I’ll be focusing on the backstroke at states, but I’d like to place in the freestyle race, too.”

Cool water

On the diving side of the Guilderville team, Kristi Russell is ninth in the Section II rankings with a high score of 214.10. Alexa Patnaude, Jaclyn Levy, and Russell swept the first three spots in the diving competition against Bethlehem.

“I’m very proud of the diving squad this year,” said Autrey. Brenda Goodknight coaches the divers for Guilderville. “Russell is trying to get back to the top of the ranks. She was up there earlier in the season,” Autrey said.

Reynalyn Canchela placed first in the 50-meter freestyle during the Troy meet with a time of 27.03 and Russell got another first place in diving with a score of 185. Canchela also took first in the 100-meter butterfly and Kaylee Barr had a time of 1:01.46 in the 100-meter freestyle to place first.

In the most recent win against Albany, Guilderville got first-place finishes from Rachael Degnan, Bickel, Hannah Liu, Brittney Ginsburg, and Nicole Das. Bickel, Ginsburg, Canchela, and Barr placed first in the 200-meter medley relay with a time of 2:04.27.

“Naturally, the fastest times come at the beginning of the year and then they drop,” said Autrey. “It’s kind of similar to a bell curve. Some of the girls are worried about cutting times, but I’m not too concerned with that. We have two or three meets a week. It’s hard to focus sometimes.”

The sectionals will be held at Shenendehowa and Autrey feels that her swimmers already have a good idea about the water. “Their new pool is a little slow and we’ve swam it already,” she said.

Even though Guilderville isn’t winning many meets, Autrey is witnessing a bond like never before.

“This is a fantastic group of girls and they’re the best because they’ve kicked up the intensity in and out of the pool,” Autrey said. “Not one of these girls are in it for themselves. Everyone is humble.”

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