Daniel prevails in L-L girls 500 free
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
One year ago as a junior, Manheim Central’s Paige Daniel took home a PIAA State silver in the 500 free and a fourth-place medal in the 200 Individual Medley.
Yet as of last Thursday night, going into the Lancaster-Lebanon League Girls Swimming Championships, she still hadn’t swam a District qualifying time to move on in the post-season as a senior.
Nerve-wracking time, right?
"Not really," Daniel said. "I knew I was pretty close for both times, so once I got in there and tried to race, I knew I’d be at least a little closer."
Manheim Central coach Heather Fittery added. "That’s kind of her mentality of it — she just kinda trudges through the season and here at the end, she comes out and shows what she’s got."
True to form, Daniel did so again at the L-L Meet at the Lititz recCenter, winning gold in the 500 free in 5:10.30, along with silver in the 200 free in a time of 1:55.32. The Central star also took home a fifth-place medal with the 200 medley relay (1:59.18) and a sixth with the 400 free relay (3:52.38).
Overall, with just six girls competing, the Lady Barons took sixth in the team standings with 31 points. That was one spot better than their seventh-place finish (22 points) from a year ago.
"The girls swam very well," Fittery remarked. "They did a super job."
Daniel certainly got a super start in the 200 free, touching the wall in a 50-yard split time of 26.61 seconds. She was still on the heels of Manheim Township’s Katie Diller with just 50 yards to go with a time of 1:25.13, which was just a half-second off the pace (1:24.63).
In the end, the Lady Streaks’ senior held off Daniel, finishing with the gold medal in 1:54.60. But for Daniel, in addition to winning the silver in 1:55.32, she crushed the District qualifying time of 1:57.62.
Plus, Daniel’s time in the 200 free was only two seconds off her career-best.
"I was glad that (Diller) was there to race because she’s a good competitor and a great swimmer," said Daniel, who was seeded fourth in 1:58.46. "I guess she pushes me, as do all the rest of the people in that event. So I wasn’t really upset that I lost. I was just glad that she was there so we could race … I didn’t really have a goal time. I wanted to really just compete and and just go as fast as I could without worrying about the time."
Hempfield’s Valerie Urban was the one pushing Daniel in the 500 free, at least early on. The Lady Knights’ senior led Daniel by 14-hundredths of a second after 50 yards, 27.89 to 28.03. But Daniel overtook Urban over the next 50 and gradually pulled away.
"I think that (Urban) just really wanted to win and I often don’t take it out as fast the first 50-wise," Daniel said. "But my first 200 is usually pretty good."
On this night, her time of 2:00.56 was nearly a second in front or Urban’s 2:01.44.
"It probably could have been a little bit faster, but it’s alright for this time of year," Daniel said.
In the end, Daniel built nearly a five-second lead over Urban (5:15.02) while touching the wall in a gold-medal winning time of 5:10.30. She went into Leagues seeded third in the 500 free in 5:20.41.
"It’s 10 seconds faster than my season-best, so I guess I was happy that I swam sorta fast," she said. "But it’s not, like, an amazing time."
Earlier, Daniel teamed up with freshman Paetyn Zeamer, sophomore Brigette Fittery and senior Rachel Lapp to get things started for the Lady Barons with a fifth-place finish in the 200 medley relay in 1:59.18.
"Having Paetyn Zeamer really helped. She’s a freshman and a year-round swimmer," Fittery said.
Zeamer also placed eighth in the 100 butterfly in 1:02.95, and she was part of the foursome that took sixth place in the 400 free relay in 3:52.38 in the final event of the night. Others on that relay were Daniel, Lapp and sophomore Jeanine Wagner, as they dropped more than three seconds from their seed time of 3:56.00.
"It’s always tough when it comes down to that (final race) and everybody’s swam all their other events already," Fittery said. "I think they did a great job with pushing themselves. I think it helped with who they were swimming against, swimming right beside (gold-medalist) Warwick."
On Tuesday night in the L-L Boys Championships, Matt Daniel was the lone Barons swimmer competing. But he scored six points for MC and single-handedly led them to a ninth-place finish in the team standings.
In the 500 free, the Central freshman shaved nearly eight seconds off his seed time (5:05.21) while earning a fourth-place medal in 4:57.46. Daniel barely missed a second medal in the 200 I.M., finishing just two spots away with an eighth-place finish in 2:06.28. That bettered his seed time (2:07.90) by nearly two seconds.
"Very pleased," Fittery said of Daniel’s efforts. "He went out strong (in the 500 free) and dropped his time significantly. He had already made District qualifying times in both events, so (the goals was) just to get a good seed for Districts." More MC SWIMMERS, page B-2