Daniel claims two League golds
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Manheim Central’s Paige Daniel and Ephrata’s Kylee Parsons had a pretty good rivalry going in the 500 free for a couple years at the L-L League Swimming Championships.
Two seasons ago, Parsons prevailed for the gold medal.
Last year, Daniel turned the tables.
Nothing lasts forever, though, and with Parsons focusing on other events last Friday at the Lititz recCenter, the MC junior admitted that it was weird carrying on without her.
"I love racing Kylee," Daniel said, "and I kinda wish she would’ve swam it this year so we could see what happens."
What happened was that Daniel became a two-time L-L champ in the 500 free, touching the wall in 5:11.59 easily ahead of Hempfield junior Valerie Urban, who finished in 5:17.69.
That also was Daniel’s second gold medal of the night, having earlier clinched top honors in the 200 Individual Medley in 2:09.35.
"I thought (Paige) swam very well," Manheim Central coach Heather Fittery said. "That was probably the strongest that we had seen out of her this season in both of the events. She did her best times, for this season anyway. She went out strong and did good races. She has a very good mindset and is very prepared when she goes to the meets."
The Lady Barons also clinched eighth-place finishes in the 200 medley and 200 free relays while finishing seventh out of 12 teams in the team standings with 22 points. Manheim Township edged Warwick 111-96 for the title.
Freshman Brigette Fittery (breastroke), juniors Rachel Clippinger (fly) and Rachel Lapp (free), along with Daniel (back), teamed up to finish the 200 medley relay in 2:02.29, which bettered their seed time of 2:03.73.
Daniel also swam the anchor leg in the 200 free relay behind Fittery, Lapp and Jeannie Wagner, touching the wall in 1:50.54.
"They were very pleased," Fittery said of the relays. "None of them are seniors, so they’re strong swimmers for underclassmen. For a couple of them, it was their first league meet."
Daniel, of course, was no stranger to the L-L Championships, nor to the 500 free, in which she won a PIAA State bronze in 2011. Her goal was to get a quick start in that event last Friday night, and she finished the opening 50 in 27.92 seconds, just ahead of Urban’s 28.35.
After 150 yards, Daniel (1:29.29) had built her lead to more than a second over Urban (1:30.72) and then slowly pulled away.
"I thought she did a good job," Fittery said.
Although Daniel ultimately finished six seconds ahead of her closest competition, her final time of 5:11.59 didn’t meet her goal.
"I wanted to go faster … probably under 5:10," said Daniel, who swam a meet-record time of 5:06.24 at last year’s L-L Meet. "I wanted to take it out pretty quick because I always have trouble with that and I did. But then after the first 150 or so, I was really tired and then I slowed down a bit."
Not having Parsons in that event to help push her down the stretch might have contributed to her time, although Daniel shattered her seed time of 5:12.69. Parsons ended up competing in the 50 free and 200 free, where she took second and fourth, respectively.
"(Paige) really didn’t have somebody strong enough to really give her a good push there with her finish," Fittery admitted. "From her times last year for States (4:55.45) and Districts (5:06.15), they were a lot faster than what she had swam there Friday night. But taking that into consideration, if she doesn’t have somebody to push her, then that sometimes doesn’t make you swim as fast either."
Hempfield’s Amber McDonnell certainly gave Daniel a push in the 200 Individual Medley last year, as the Central swimmer won the silver in 2:09.75, more a second behind the Black Knights’ star (2:08.05).
Daniel improved that time on Friday, taking first in 2:09.35, two seconds in front of silver-medalist Kasey Mann (2:11.47) of Manheim Township. McDonnell won the bronze medal in a time of 2:13.15. Daniel also improved her seed time (2:12.94).
"(McDonnell) was sick, unfortunately," Daniel said. "I just also wanted to try to go out fast in that because fly is one of my worst strokes. I just wanted to stay with Kasey and try to bring it home faster."
Even with the fly not being her strongest stroke, Daniel still held a slim edge against Mann at the turn.
"I didn’t want to look after fly," Daniel said. "I was just going to swim my own race for the first 100 and then if I needed to, then just race the last 100."
Manheim Central’s swimmers will now be idle until the District Championships are held March 2-3 at Cumberland Valley High School. Daniel will compete in the 200 I.M. and 500 free, and Fittery is hoping that the 200 medley and 200 free relays also qualify. The top 16 relays in each event advance. More MC SWIMMERS, page B-6