By Alicia Dziak

With a sizeable squad filled with talented girls, the 2016 SGI Girls Varsity Swimming team launched their season earlier this month.

Led by coach Karen Reynolds, SGI middle school PE teacher, and assistant coach Christy Komenda, SGI high school art teacher, this year’s swim team has 31 girls on the roster.

“We have three eighth graders, five freshman, seven sophomores, nine juniors, and seven seniors,” explained Reynolds. “We have 10 newcomers to the squad this season.”

The combination of veteran and rookie swimmers brings a strong mix to the pool.

“This year’s team has a lot of talent and power throughout the lineup,” said Reynolds.  “Elle Holland is the team’s fastest swimmer who has already broken the 200 free pool record.  Last season she broke the 100 free school record and is continuing to improve all her times to take more names off the record board.  Elle works extremely hard in the off-season with TWIST and her talent in the water is exceptional.”

Reynolds went on to add, “We wouldn’t be the solid team we are if it wasn’t for the depth and talent we have with the other swimmers.  McKenzie Galvin is very versatile with her freestyle.  She can win the team key points in the distance swims, but she is also a key sprinter for the team as well.  This diversity helps fill our line-ups based on the needs of the meet.  Anna Lawton, Kierstin Komenda, and Lexi Blesy are the team’s key flyers and also Lawton and Komenda bring the team’s powerhouse in the 200 IM, and the 200 Free.  Again their versatility is essential for the team’s success.   Allie Lavanture is one of our top sprint freestylers, as well as 100 backstroker.”

Reynolds continued,  “Carley Delaney and Lauren Ditchey rank very high in our league in the 100 breaststroke.  They are one another’s competition currently because they will not see much competition with their speed and talent in our league until we get to East Aurora and Eden.  Delaney has already qualified for sectionals in the 100 breaststroke and Ditchey is one second away.  Ditchey has also proved to herself that she is a strong competitor in the 200 IM and the 100 back.  She is continuing to build confidence that is going to carry over to her swims/times.  Abby Moscato has come out of her shell this year and is popping free sprint times that are ECIC qualifying times and key team points.  Sydney Emley is a silent powerhouse.  She is a major factor in our relays and like Galvin, a huge asset when it comes to mid-distance and distance swims.  Her sister Madisyn is challenging herself more and more, and her backstroke and 100 free times are giving our relays depth.  Samantha Zifra has worked hard in the off-season with her diving at UB, and is building her dive list so she can throw higher DD dives.  Meanwhile, Shannon O’Hara is a newcomer to the team, and her gymnastics background and courage is going to help tremendously against Eden when we need as many place points as possible.”

Reynolds dedication and pride of these girls is obvious.  “With 31 girls, I wish I could write a book on how they all contribute and what they bring to this 2016 team,” she stated.  “They all hold a special place and in the bigger pools, their swims are extremely important as we are looking for all the points we can get, even the 4th and 5th place finishes.  We haven’t had those meets yet; those are to come in October.”

Reynolds sees this range of athletes as the team’s greatest asset. “Our team’s biggest strength is the diversity of swimmers,” she said. “To be able to rearrange line-ups and still have a powerhouse line-up is huge for a swim coach.  Sometimes we need to maneuver swimmers in different events based on competition, and to know that I have a line of girls that can not just swim, but can compete, is a huge strength for our team.”

So far this season, there have been plenty of individual and team successes. “A huge success for our team so far this season was tying Pioneer, which is non-league,” Reynolds stated.  “The past five seasons, we have not beaten Pioneer because they had power and depth, so tying them in the first meet of the season was extremely motivating for our team.”

While girls each make their own individual goals, they also have team goals. “This year, our team goal is to be a family (supportive and encouraging), and to beat Eden,” noted Reynolds, who added is their toughest league competition, and who they tied last year. SGI faces Eden in their last meet of the season on Friday, Oct. 7.

Other upcoming meets include Maryvale and Tonawanda, both next week.