Six TIMES NEWS area swimmers have qualified for the 2012 PIAA State Swimming Championships that will be held at Bucknell University starting on Friday. All participants will be competing in Class AA competition.
Karl Pielmeier (Palmerton), Sawyer Allen (Palmerton), and Matt Cullen (Weatherly) on the boys side and Katie Pielmeier (Palmerton), Joann Butkus (Tamaqua), and Caroline Kanaskie (Tamaqua) in girls competition will be representing the area this upcoming weekend.
The Blue Bomber swimmers made the most noise last weekend at the District 11 Championships and received two automatic berths to the State Championships. Karl Pielmeier was the first to strike gold for the Bombers winning in the 200 Individual Medlay. Pielmeier followed up his stellar performance with another gold medal in the 500 Freestyle. He is also the highest seeded swimmer out of all TIMES NEWS area participants with a seventh seed in the 500 Freestyle (4:50.34) and an eighth seed in the 200 IM (2:00.30).
Sawyer Allen joined Pielmeier in the gold club on Friday when he took home top honors in the 100 Breaststroke. Allen and Pielmeier are the only TIMES NEWS area swimmers to earn gold medals in the District 11 Championships last week. Allen is seeded 22nd in the 100 Breaststroke with a time of 1:02.27.
Girls swimmer Katie Pielmeier also from Palmerton turned in good enough times in the 200 IM (2:11.10) and 100 Breaststroke (1.08.58) to qualify for States. She earned silver medals in both events and is seeded eighth in the 200 IM and 13th in the 100 Breaststroke.
"We had a fantastic year," said Palmerton head coach Karl Pielmeier Sr. "These kids dedication to the sport is great. They spend as much time on the road as they do in the pool and that can be tough on a young kid."
The Palmerton swim team consists of three members, which have all qualified for the the State tournament. Palmerton High School doesn't have a pool so the Bombers swim team has to practice at a KidsPeace facility in South Bethlehem, about an hour from Palmerton.
"There dedication has definitely paid off," said Pielmeier Sr. "Qualifying for States is proof of how hard these kids have worked and we want to have our three swimmers in the finals come Friday and Saturday night."
The Tamaqua girls swim team also had a nice showing at Districts a week ago.
Joann Butkus set two Tamaqua swim records in the 100 Freestyle (54.56) and 100 Butterfly (1.00.85). Her times were good enough for her to qualify for States and she is seeded 13th in the 100 Fly and 22nd in the 100 Freestyle.
Caroline Kanaskie is joining her teammate at States as well with a solid effort in the 200 Freestyle. A time of (2.00.55) was also a new Tamaqua swim record and good enough to qualify her for state competition. Butkus is seeded 27th in the 200 Freestyle.
"These girls worked really hard and were very focus all year," said Tamaqua head coach Ashley Stanek. "They are where they are right now because of their work ethic and because they set high goals for themselves. With both of them being underclassmen it's a testament to them for getting to this level of competition."
Weatherly's Matt Cullen will also be heading out to Lewisburg to compete for a state gold. Cullen is the Wreckers only Schuylkill League Champion ever and finished third and seventh in the 50 Freestyle (22.34) and 100 (49.38) Freestyle at Districts last week. Cullen came into Districts ranked first in the 50 Freestyle and actually improved on his time at Districts by four one-hundreths of a second, but couldn't top Allentown Central Catholics Kevin Bakey (21.61). He is seeded 19th in the 50 Freestyle and 25th in the 100 Freestyle for state competition.