It was Senior Appreciation Day Thursday at the Tamaqua Area natatorium.
That made it a perfect time to celebrate the accomplishments of Tamaqua's senior class swimmers and divers.
For the Blue Raiders' boys squad, its latest achievement is its second Schuylkill League championship in three years.
The Raiders clinched the swim crown by coasting to a 139-19 triumph over visiting Mahanoy Area. The Lady Raiders made it a sweep with a 111.5-70.5 victory.
Tamaqua has seven senior boys, with four of them (Ben Tuckett, Ricky Clemson, Corey McCann and Billy Breiner) four-year participants. The Raiders' record over that span is a lofty 42-13, including a sparkling 29-2 in Schuylkill League competition. The other upperclassmen include Brandon Clemson, Stephen Kupetz and John Scheitrum.
"Our seniors are a very strong group of swimmers," said Tamaqua coach Eric Lech after the Raiders improved to 11-2 overall and a perfect 7-0 in Schuylkill competition. "They work hard at practice and they score a lot of points for us. They are leaders in every sense of the word."
Mahanoy Area (1-6 league), which only has four boys on its team, was no match for Tamaqua's depth. The Raiders placed first in 11 of the 12 events to cruise to the win.
Ben Tuckett won the 200 individual medley (2:21.02) and backstroke (1:00.62) and Ricky Clemson captured the 100 and 200 freestyle (53.59 and 2:06.95, respectively). Both swam on the winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.
"It's awesome," beamed Ben Tuckett, "We've won the league two times in my career, and we've only done this two times ever.
"Honesty, I'm very surprised at this, but the people coming in and the ones who came back from last year stepped up for us," added Tuckett.
"We knew it was going to be close," said Ricky Clemson. "Pottsville was still tough, Shamokin, too. We've gotten a lot better since the start of the season. We've improved a lot and just stepped up and got it done."
While the seniors lead the way, the underclassmen have also made important contributions.
"A lot of things have worked out in our favor," noted Lech. "Our breaststrokers, Calvin Troxell and Nate Leibensperger, didn't swim before high school, and they've given us a 1-2 punch there. Zak Yachera is a second year swimmer who has stepped up. There has been so much improvement all around."
Dane DeWire, the reigning Schuylkill County diving champ, placed first on the diving board with 208.25 points. Yachera won the 500 Free (6:23.85), Leibensperger won the breaststroke (1:63.43) and Sam Tuckett added a first in the butterfly (1:03.43).
Sam Tuckett and DeWire were also on two winning relays and Yachera, Leibensperger, Tyler Butkus and Troxell one relay each.
The Raider girls placed first in eight events to match the boys' overall mark of 11-2. They are 7-1 in the league, with their only setback against Pottsville (7-0), which defeated Blue Mountain Thursday in a battle of league unbeatens.
"I feel confident with the way our girls are swimming," said Lech. "They had a lot of personal bests today."
Caroline Kanaskie (200, 500 freestyle) and Schuyler Schmidt (200 I.M., 100 free) were multiple event winners for Tamaqua, while Schuykill diving champ Katie Hummel and Chey Bates (backstroke) added firsts for the Raiders, who won two of the three relay races. Hummel, Samantha Digilio and Megan Amey were the senior girls honored during the ceremony.
Madison Miller (50 free), Rachael Burke (butterfly) and Maggie Mansell (breaststroke) were event winners for Mahanoy (3-4 league).
Tamaqua 139, Mahanoy Area 19
200 Medley Relay - 1. Tamaqua (B. Tuckett, N. Leibensperger, D. DeWire, R. Clemson) 1:50.68, 2. Tamaqua.
200 Freestyle - 1. Ricky Clemson (T)2:06.95, 2. Sam Tuckett (T), 3. Devin Smith (T), 4. Christian Ulicny (MA).
200 I.M. - 1. Ben Tuckett (T) 2:21.92, 2. Zak Yachera (T), 3. Dan Starry (T).
50 Freestyle - 1. Jacob Holman (MA) 25.65, 2. Calvin Troxell (T), 3.. Stephen Kupetz (WV), 4. Zach Broomall (MA), 5. Brandon Clemson (T).
Diving - 1. Dane DeWire (T) 208.25, 2. Billy Breiner (T).
100 Butterfly - 1. Sam Tuckett (T) 1:03.43, 2. Evan Stoll (T), 3. Devin Smith (T).
100 Freestyle - 1. Ricky Clemson (T) 53.59, 2. Jacob Holman (MA), 3. Tyler Butkus (T), 4. Stephen Kupetz (T).
500 Freestyle - 1. Zak Yachera (T) 6:23.85, 2. Dan Starry (T).
200 Free Relay - 1. Tamaqua (Butkus, Troxell, S. Tuckett, Yachera) 1:45.71, 2. Tamaqua.
100 Backstroke - 1. Ben Tuckett (T) 1:00.62, 2. Dane DeWire (T), 3. Corey McCann (T), 4. Christian Ulicny (MA).
100 Breaststroke - 1. Nate Leibensperger (T) 1:10.54, 2. Calvin Troxell (T), 3. Zach Broomell (MA), 4. Brandon Clemson (T).
400 Free Relay - 1. Tamaqua (S. Tuckett, R. Clemson, B. Tuckett, DeWire) 3:42.93, 2. Tamaqua.
Tamaqua 111.5, Mah. Area 70.5
200 Medley Relay - 1. Mahanoy Area (K. Scheeler, M. Mansell, R. Burke, M. Miller) 48.64, 2. Tamaqua, 3. Tamaqua.
200 Freestyle - 1. Caroline Kanaskie (T) 2:11,63, 2. Rachael Burke (MA), 3, Andrea Whitley (T), 4. Ellen Brylewski (MA), 5. Megan Amey (T).
200 I.M. - 1. Schuyler Schmidt (T) 2:18.15, 2. Deana DeWire, 3. Emily Sabol (MA), 4. Megan Wagner (T), 3. Maggie Mansell (MA).
50 Freestyle - 1. Madison Miller (MA) 27.93, 2. Jordan Nowacki (T), 3. Sam Digilio (T), 4. Christina Scheeler (MA), 5. Ashley Wilmer (MA).
Diving - 1. Katie Hummel (T) 144.30, 2. Ashley VanBuren (MA), 3. Alaina Reese (T).
100 Butterfly - 1. Rachael Burke (MA) 1:06.16, 2. Chey Bates (T) 3. Emily Sabol (MA), 4. Olivia Hower (MA), 5. Emily Bumbulsky (T).
100 Freestyle - 1. Schuyler Schmidt (T) 58.69, 2. Madison MIller (MA) 3. Sam Digilio (T), 4. Christina Scheeler (MA), 5. Megan Amey (T).
500 Freestyle - 1. Caroline Kanaskie (MA) 5:53.75, 2. Deana Dewire (T), 3. Andrea Whitley (T), 4. Erin Techentine (MA)
200 Freestyle Relay - 1. Tamaqua (J. Nowacki, C. Kanaskie, S. Schmidt, S. Degilio) 1:50.75, 2. Mahanoy Area, 3. Tamaqua.
100 Backstroke - 1. Chey Bates (T) 1:10.52, 2. Ashley VanBuren (T) 3. Olivia Hower (MA), 4. Katey Scheeler (MA), 5. Megan Wagner (T).
100 Breaststroke - 1. Maggie Mansell (MA) 1:18.76, 2. Erin Techentine (MA), 3. Emily Bumbulsky (T), 4. (tie) Chloe Hartung (T) and Ellen Brylewski (MA).
400 Freestyle Relay - 1. Tamaqua (A. Whitley, D. DeWire, C. Kanaskie, S. Schmidt) 4:05.88, 2. Mahanoy Area, 3. Tamaqua.