LEWISBURG For Trey Shackleton the state meet was a brand new experience. For Sawyer Allen, it was his last of four trips to the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships.
Both area swimmers earned medals Thursday on the second and final day of the Class AA meet.
Shackleton, a sophomore from the Northwestern Lehigh School District, placed third in the 500-yard freestyle. Allen, a Palmerton High School senior, took eighth in the 100-yard breaststroke for the first state medal of his career.
Palmerton's Katie Pielmeier and the Tamaqua girls 400 freestyle relay team also swam Wednesday at states, held at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium. Pielmeier placed 26th in the girls 100 breaststroke, while Tamaqua's relay team earned a spot in the consolation final and finished 16th overall.
Shackleton entered the 500 freestyle as the No. 3 seed after swimming a 4:41.90 at districts. He posted the eighth-best time in preliminaries (4:45.58), which meant he earned the last qualifying spot in the championship final.
Swimming in lane eight, Shackleton cruised to a personal best time of 4:37.77.
"I think I performed great," he said. "At the end of the race I was exhausted. I don't think I had anything left to leave in the water. That's as well I could have done and I'm really happy with my performance."
Shackleton decided not to set an exact goal time or place and it worked. He prefers to keep the pressure to a minimum and let the race come to him.
"I just thought I'd let the race develop and see how high I can place and how fast I can go," he said. "I prefer to be on the outside lanes. When I'm anywhere close to the center I feel I have more pressure on me. When I'm in lane eight I have nowhere to go but up and I can be more relaxed in the water."
With two more years to improve on his stellar first-year performance, Shackleton looks forward to future state meets.
"Considering what this is, I wasn't as nervous as I possibly could have been," he said. "It was a great experience to have swum once. I think next year and the year after I can really just train hard and come back and swim even better in both events."
He also earned a seventh-place medal in Wednesday's 200 freestyle.
Allen competed in states all four years of high school. In earning a medal, he achieved a goal that's been on his wish list since his freshman year.
After swimming the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.11 at districts, Allen was hoping to go under a minute at states. He swam 1:00.15 in his preliminary and went 1:00.47 in the final.
"I always wish I can do better, but I'm eighth in the state," he said. "You can't complain about going to the state meet and getting a medal.
"I made a couple mistakes in the finals. I was just sloppy on my walls and my pull outs."
Although he didn't swim the final as fast he wanted to, Allen's highlight came when he had the fifth-best prelim time, securing a spot in the championship final and the state medal he coveted for so long.
"It was a good feeling knowing that no matter what happened [in Wednesday's finals] I'd be able to go home with a medal," Allen said. "Being just off my goal time was very nerve-racking knowing I had one more chance to get that time."
Tamaqua's girls 400 freestyle relay team went to states as the No. 18 seed. The foursome of Miranda Amey, Danielle DeCindio, Caroline Kanaskie and Joann Butkus placed 16th in prelims and 16th in finals.
"They did a really good job," said Blue Raider head coach Ashley Stanek. "We tapered for districts so it was tough to match that time."
The team swam districts in 3:44.01 and did the state prelim in 3:44.96. They swam the final in 3:47.38
Pielmeier was seeded 13th in the 100 breaststroke at 1:08.41. The Blue Bomber senior swam the prelim in 1:10.7 for 26th place.
State team titles were won by Salisbury's boys team, which clinched the title in the final event, and the Villa Maria Academy girls team.