Daniel shatters District record, wins two titles

By on March 4, 2015
Manheim Central junior Matt Daniel (center) had plenty of reasons to smile atop the medal podium last Saturday after winning gold in the 500 free in a new District Three Double-A record time of 4:36.02. Also pictured are Palmyra silver-medalist Teag Culver (right) and Trinity bronze-medalist Keenan Handley. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Manheim Central junior Matt Daniel (center) had plenty of reasons to smile atop the medal podium last Saturday after winning gold in the 500 free in a new District Three Double-A record time of 4:36.02. Also pictured are Palmyra silver-medalist Teag Culver (right) and Trinity bronze-medalist Keenan Handley. (Photo by Mike Shull)

Manheim Central’s Matt Daniel didn’t exactly get the best of starts in the 500 freestyle at the District Three Double-A Championships last Saturday.

Early in the race, his right goggle filled up with water.

But not even that prevented the Baron junior from making a little bit of history.

Daniel shattered a nine-year old District record and won the gold medal &tstr; his second in two days &tstr; during a memorable weekend at Cumberland Valley High School. He also touched the wall first in the 200 I.M. in a school-record time of 1:54.82 on Friday, becoming Manheim Central’s first District gold medalist since his sister, Paige, claimed the girls 500 free in 2013 in 5:00.04.

Both of his finishes earned Daniel automatic bids &tstr; and No. 1 seeds &tstr; at the State Double-A Championships, to be held March 11-12 at Bucknell University.

His time of 4:36.02 in the 500 free was a half-second faster than the previous District mark of 4:36.55, set by Susquehannock’s Zack Phillips in 2006.

“It feels great,” said Daniel, who touched the wall 11 seconds ahead of silver-medalist Culver (4:47.31). “You can’t complain about a record.”

Daniel wasn’t complaining last year either after posting a 4:38 en route to winning District silver in the 500 free. At the time, it was a new school record, and it lasted just two weeks until he shattered it again while placing fourth at States in 4:35.98.

Saturday’s time was just four-hundredths of a second from yet another MC mark.

“I had gone a 4:38 last year, so I knew I would be able to get that … or I should be able to get that,” Daniel said.

Despite the goggle malfunction, Daniel darted from the starting blocks like he was on a mission, taking the lead and never looking back. His time of 25.19 seconds after 50 yards was just ahead of Palmyra’s Teag Culver (25.65).

“I just dealt with (the goggles),” Daniel said. “I had to tell myself, ‘It didn’t matter, it shouldn’t affect me.’”

He still had a fast pace at the 100 (52.01) and 150 (1:19.41) yard points in the race.

“I probably went out a little too fast,” Daniel acknowledged. “I usually try to take it out easier. I like to build on it. The first 50 might have been alright, but I think the next two or three were the problem.”

“He knew he wanted to go out and (get the record),” Manheim Central coach Heather Fittery said. “He had a set split he wanted to stay underneath, around 28 seconds or lower, throughout the race … He was very happy with it. I think he wishes he could have gone a little bit faster throughout, but his first 100 was a little too fast, maybe. He said, too, that he could feel he probably went out a little too fast on the first 100. But overall, it was a great swim, really not having anybody to push him otherwise.”

While extending his lead to a dominant margin, the record remained in the back of his mind. After recording five straight sub-28.0 splits to start the race, Daniel had four marks of 28.29, 28.26, 28.66, and 28.24 before bringing it home with a 27.39.

“I could (see the scoreboard), but I decided not to (look),” Daniel said. “I thought I was with it.”

The outcome was decided early in the 200 I.M. as well, where Daniel (1:54.82) finished nearly three seconds in front of runner-up, Jordan Wyant (1:57.61), of Trinity.

Daniel’s time easily shattered his own school record of 1:57.67, which he set at last year’s State Meet.

“He’s just so much stronger this year and has been working hard,” Fittery said. “We were very shocked at his time. He was almost three seconds faster than his State time from last year. It was a great swim for him. It was probably the first time he was really pushed. At the League meet, he was for the I.M., but at a higher level of competition, I think it was good that he had a swimmer who stayed with him at least through the majority of the race to help him swim strong.”

Manheim Central senior Aaron Binner added a 12th-place finish in the 50 freestyle in 23.36 seconds, as the Barons tied James Buchanan for 17th place in the final team standings with 45 points.

In girls action, Lady Baron junior Paetyn Zeamer finished 17th in the Triple-A 100 butterfly in 1:01.10. That was more than a second faster than her 26th-seed time of 1:02.88.

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