Area swimmers had a fine showing at Saturday's District 11 Class AA Championships held at Parkland High School, earning five individual medals.
Over the course of the two-day competition, a total of 11 individual medals and 1 relay medal were won by area teams.
Northwestern Lehigh junior Madison Burns made a huge impact at her first district meet, winning gold in both of her events and winning the Dennis A. McGinley Award for being the outstanding female swimmer of the meet.
"It's pretty exciting," said Burns on winning the award. "I wasn't expecting to be called out."
Burns' two wins came in the 200 IM (2:06.13) and the 100 breaststroke (1:04.35), clinching berths in both events for the upcoming state championships. Burns was thankful that she made the decision to participate in the district meet this year.
"This meet was fun. I wanted to try it one year and it went well. I'm happy with my results."
Tamaqua freshman Joann Butkus earned her second bronze medal on Saturday (her first earned Friday in the 50 free), setting a new school record along the way, with her finish in the 100 freestyle (54.92).
"I wasn't expecting that at all," Butkus said about setting the record. "I was upset about my time in the 50 freestyle. I figured the 100 freestyle was my last chance to make a name for myself, so I just went out and completely tore it up."
Butkus learned on Sunday that she qualified for an at-large berth in the state championships for her time in the 100 freestyle.
Another Tamaqua swimmer, senior Dane DeWire, earned an individual medal on Saturday in the 100 backstroke (59.01), getting a fourth place finish after being seeded sixth. Having already qualified for states as a diver by taking the AA title, this race was a perfect ending to a phenomenal swimming career.
"My goal all season was to go under a minute," said DeWire. "I only had to drop .07, but I ended up dropping a second and a half. It was a great last race to my season. I've been swimming for twelve years, and I'll take that race over anything."
"As much as I love swimming, I now have a weight off my shoulders," added DeWire. "I can concentrate on diving. Hopefully I'll be able to medal at states."
Tamaqua coach Eric Lech was pleased with the results of the meet, both teams finishing in fifth place after recovering from a rough first day.
"We were a little nervous coming in, but we came back today more comfortable," Lech said. "We had pressure off of us and just went out and swam. It's been a great season. I'm just so proud of everything these kids have accomplished."
Palmerton sophomore Katie Pielmeier earned a silver medal in the 100 breaststroke (1:09.30). Her times in both this event and from her third place finish in the 200 IM (2:13.32) on Friday have earned her two at-large berths in the state championships.
"I've felt good and my taper has really worked," Pielmeier said. "I was trying my best and I'm so happy with my results."
Sawyer Allen, another Palmerton sophomore, earned a second fourth place medal (his first Friday in the 200 IM) and qualified for states for his time in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.84).
"I felt good today and it's great to see Katie do so well too, said Allen. "I hope we both can do well at states."
Panther Valley senior Karoline Vavra qualified automatically for the state championships by taking the gold medal in the 50 free on Friday, but she earned an additional place with her 100 breaststroke performance (1:10.27). Her fifth place finish gave her the final number sixteen spot.
Panther Valley coach Gerri Vavra was thrilled with the performances of her swimmers. The girl's team finished eighth overall, while the boy's team ended up in the eleventh spot.
"Every swim across the board for our entire team was a lifetime best," said Vavra. "Jason Gates reset his own two school records in the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke, and Michael Sloboda set a new boys record in the 100 butterfly for PV."
"You know when you're going to come down here that you're facing really tough competition and fast times. We saw some really nice time drops and for that I'm very happy."
"We are looking forward to states," Vavra added. "The kids all come out and they get to experience it with Karoline. It's exciting."
Southern Lehigh conquered the team results, taking first place on both sides.
The PIAA Swimming Championships are set for March 16-19 at Bucknell University.
DISTRICT 11 AA SWIMMING
1. Southern Lehigh 490, 2. Salisbury 289, 3. Allentown Central Catholic 233, 4. Moravian Academy 199, 5. Tamaqua Area 184, 6. Blue Mountain 148, 7. Saucon Valley 129, 8. Panther Valley 98, 9. Schuylkill Haven 89, 10. Mahanoy Area 78, 11. Bethlehem Catholic 48, 12. Northwestern Lehigh 40, 13. North Schuylkill 38, 14. Palmerton Area 33, 15. Pen Argyl 31, 16. Tri-Valley 29, 17. Marian 7
1. Southern Lehigh 436, 2. Salisbury 288, 3. Allentown Central Catholic 280.5, 4. Saucon Valley 272.5, 5. Tamaqua Area 201, 6. Schuylkill Haven 185, 7. Moravian Academy 117, 8. Blue Mountain 102, 9. Palmerton Area 30, 9. Weatherly 30, 11. Panther Valley 20, 12. Bethlehem Catholic 11, 13. Pen Argyl 6
100 Freestyle - 1. Katie Cialkowski (Sal) 53.47, 2. Rhyan Rodriguez (SL) 54.01, 3. Joann Butkus (Tam) 54.92, 4. Taylor Gonoude (Sal) 55.32
500 Freestyle - 1. Abigail Thomson (Mor) 5:04.96, 2. Emily Lyons (SL) 5:12.98, 3. Gabby Guttman (Sal) 5:13.11, 4. Danielle Guttman (Sal) 5:23.22
100 Backstroke - 1. Madison Amann (SL) 1:01.08, 2. Emily Baumert (Sal) 1:01.86, 3. Devon Korhammer (Mor) 1:01.92, 4. Sarah Lyons (SL) 1:02.46
100 Breaststroke - 1. Madison Burns (NWL) 1:04.35, 2. Katie Pielmeier (Pal) 1:09.30, 3. Taylor Gonoude (Sal) 1:10.00, 4. Emilee Carr (SL) 1:10.24
400 Freestyle Relay - 1. Salisbury (Taylor Gonoude, Gabby Guttman, Katie Cialkowski, Emily Baumert) 3:35.34 (New District Record), 2. Southern Lehigh (Rhyan Rodriguez, Madison Amann, Amy Philips, Emily Lyons 3:39.99 (New District Record), 3. Allentown Central Catholic (Caroline Cameron, Alexis Cameron, Dayna Chickersky, Courtney Udicious) 3:49.38, 4. Moravian Academy (Kaitlyn Casiole, Melissa Rosenkranz, Devon Korhammer, Abigail Thomson) 3:50.94
100 Freestyle - 1. Riley Geis (SL) 49.43, 2. Eric Tatum (Sal) 49.85, 3. Kevin Bakey (ACC) 49.98, 4. Michael Anderson (SL) 50.10
500 Freestyle - 1. Zach Oatis (SV) 4:43.75 (New District Record), 2. Garrett Collins (Sal) 4:58.25, 3. Thomas Boran (BM) 5:01.27, 4. Ethan Stinner (ACC) 5:01.86
100 Backstroke - 1. Jason Moyer (SL) 52.42, 2. Avery Soong (SV) 57.06, 3. Arkady Apelchuk (SV) 58.80, 4. Dane DeWire (Tam) 59.01
100 Breaststroke - 1. Mike Ambrose (SL) 1:00.95, 2. John Deutsch (SL) 1:02.13, 3. Brendan Ferraro (SL) 1:02.68, 4. Sawyer Allen (Pal) 1:02.84
400 Freestyle Relay - 1. Southern Lehigh (Jason Moyer, Michael Anderson, Mike Ambrose, Riley Geis) 3:16.92 (New District Record), 2. Salisbury (Garrett Collins, Tim Constantini, Jon Anderson, Eric Tatum) 3:23.86, 3. Allentown Central Catholic (Ethan Stinner, James Kugler, Colin Miksiewicz, Kevin Bakey) 3:24.74, 4. Saucon Valley (Zachary Oatis, Patrick Miller, Adam Peterson, Avery Soong) 3:25.33