LEWISBURG The biggest stage is where Palmerton's Shea Solt performs her best.
For the second year in a row, Solt set a personal-best time and won a bronze medal in the PIAA Class AA 200-yard freestyle on Friday night at Bucknell University's Kinney Natatorium.
"Last year was my personal best which I came in with, which was a 1:53.10," Solt said. "I knew I wanted to get a high 1:51 or a low 1:52 and that's what I did."
The Blue Bomber senior posted a time of 1:52.20, behind the 1:47.67 put up by gold-medalist Lindsay Vrooman of Ambridge Area and the 1:49.12 of silver-medalist Leah Smith of Oakland Catholic. Vrooman and Smith entered the event as the top two seeds.
"I was hoping for top three because I knew it was tough competition," Solt said.
It is the third consecutive year that Solt earned a state medal in the 200 freestyle. A very impressive feat, especially considering Palmerton doesn't even field a swim team.
Although not having a team does cause its difficulties, Solt finds a way to make the best of it.
finds a way to make the best of it.
"It is tough sometimes," Solt said. "I like doing relays, which is a fun part about swimming but also it's good so I can just focus on my event each day."
Plus, being one of the few swimmers at Palmerton makes her a celebrity at school.
"People are like wait, we have a swim team, we don't even have a pool," Solt said. "It's fun though, I like doing it."
Solt will be back at Bucknell today, as she competes in the 500 freestyle, an event she set a district record in this year with a time of 5:01.92.
Katie Pielmeier of Palmerton finished 24th in the preliminaries of the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:16.88 and did not advance to the evening session.
"I think I did very well for it being my first states," the freshman said. "I was happy with my time."
Pielmeier will swim again today in the 100 breaststroke.
Tricia Janowiak, Alexia Follweiller, Lauren Cormier and Karoline Vavra of Panther Valley competed in both the 200 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay. The Panthers fell just short of qualifying for the evening competition in both relays, finishing 17th in the preliminaries of the 200 medley with a time of 1:55.18 and 18th in the preliminaries of the 200 freestyle with a mark of 1:43.39.
"We upped our times and upped our spots so we were proud about that," Janowiak said. "We wish we would have made it back to finals but it's okay that we didn't."
In the boys' preliminaries, Palmerton's KP Pielmeier finished 25th in the 200 individual medley. The Blue Bomber sophomore did not advance to the evening competition but his time of 2:04.07 did eclipse his district-time of 2:04.18.
Allentown Central Catholic's Catherine Rose won her third consecutive state diving gold with a score of 449.45.
In the boys 200 individual medley, David Nolan of Hershey broke the national record with a time of 1:43.43, nearly three seconds faster than the previous mark.
After the first day of competition, Oakland Catholic leads the girls' Class AA standings with 104 points. Allentown Central Catholic is 11th with 47 points, Southern Lehigh is 12th with 37 points, Palmerton sits in 24th with 16 points and Salisbury is in 33rd with 11 points.
In the boys' standings, Hershey has a big lead with 217 points. Southern Lehigh sits in 10th place with 35 points, Salisbury is in 11th place with 25 points and Saucon Valley currently sits in 20th spot with 15 points.