Tamaqua head swim coach Ashley Stanek (2005) and assistant coach Adrian Bumbulsky (2007) enjoyed a significant amount of success during their high school days. The two were responsible for numerous Raider swim records and both surpassed the 1,000 point milestone in their careers.
This year's Tamaqua swim squad has a pair that rivals Stanek and Bumbulsky, but considering the two are now the coaches of the Raiders that's just fine with them.
Those two swimmers are senior Caroline Kanaskie and junior Joann Butkus. The two have been ripping through the waves all season long for Tamaqua and just like their head coach, earned their passage into the Raiders 1,000-point club.
The duo got their start in swimming at an early age with just simple swimming lessons, but as they got older they knew they had a certain connection with the water.
"When I was about two or three my mom took me to the Blue Mountain pool for lessons and I learned how to swim," said Kanaskie. "Then, when I was about six or seven, I was trying a bunch of different sports and swimming just stuck with me. My parents have always encouraged me to do what I love and swimming is definitely something that I have always enjoyed doing."
Butkus got an early start as well.
"I was just a kid when my parents took me to swimming lessons with our former head coach Eric Lech. Then I just continued to stay with it, swimming in youth programs and YMCA programs," said Butkus. "I just felt comfortable in the water and it was just something that I really loved doing."
Obtaining 1,000 points in the sport of swimming is certainly no picnic. It takes hand work and dedication in the off-season, something that both Kanaskie and Butkus are no strangers to.
"For me it's important to build my strength in the off-season," said Butkus. "I do a lot of exercising that's based on me gaining more muscle. I also do a lot of things that I enjoy like piloxing, that mixes boxing together with pilates, which makes for a great workout. It's also important to be in the water, but I don't over do it. I use the off-season to mentally prepare myself for the season because it's very mentally draining during the season."
The inspiration for both girls shooting for the 1,000 point plateau came when they were underclassmen. Former teammate Dane DeWire reached the 1,000 point mark in 2011 and that's when both girls set their sites on getting to that level.
"When I saw Dane accomplish that I instantly thought to myself that I wanted to get there as well," said Kanaskie. "It just feels great to have accomplished a goal that you set your mind to. It also makes you feel good because there aren't that many people who have been able to score 1,000 points. It was something that I set out to do, but I never thought about it every second or anything like that. I worked hard and just went out there and took care of business and it happened for me."
Joann Butkus set herself apart from all the other 1,000 point swimmers by being the first to do so in her junior season.
"When I saw Dane get 1,000 in my freshman season I knew that was something I wanted to do," said Butkus. "Then after my sophomore year and halfway through my junior season I did the math and it was viable for me to get there at the end of this year. I was able to accomplish that and it was the icing on the cake to a great season."
This week, Kanaskie and Butkus took part in the PIAA state swimming championships. They were both a part of the 400 freestyle relay team and Butkus also qualified individually for the 50 freestyle. The 400 relay squad made it to the B final, finishing 16th and Butkus qualified for the B final in 50 freestyle, finishing 14th overall.
Coach Stanek attributes the success of both swimmers over the years to their dedication to the sport and also their ability to perform well in various events.
"They both have very strong work ethics and they always give 100% effort when they're in the pool," said Stanek. "Their best qualities as swimmers though are their versatility. I could use them in almost every event and they would be successful. It's just great to see two girls on one team be able to get to that 1,000 point mark and I'm proud to say that I'm a part of that. They are just two very character rich individuals with great futures ahead of them."