Pielmeier now part of Bomber history
Karl Pielmeier never got a chance to experience the home crowd cheering him on.
Unlike his peers at Palmerton High School, Pielmeier faced all of his scholastic competition on the road.
That's one of the disadvantages you deal with when you're an athlete without a team and a swimmer without a pool.
Even though he never got a chance to compete at Palmerton High School, Pielmeier made sure he will always be a part of it.
Thanks to an impressive performance at the District 11 Class AA swimming championships, Pielmeier's name will now be on permanent display inside the Bombers' gymnasium.
The performance at districts also played a huge role in Pielmeier being selected the 2011-12 TIMES NEWS Swimmer of the Year.
Pielmeier said a little extra motivation prior to his first final at districts helped pave the way to his double gold medal performance.
"I was really excited and nervous prior to the final of the 200 IM on the first day of districts," recalled Pielmeier. "But my gym teacher, Carol Andrews, was there watching and she came up to me before the race and told me that she wanted to see my name on the banner in the gym.
"That really got me focused because I knew for that to happen I needed to win the race."
Pielmeier explained that Palmerton has banners hanging in the gym that honor everyone who has ever won a District 11 championship. Following Pielmeier's 2:00.3 swim in the 200 IM, the banner honoring the swimmers will have an addition.
But Pielmeier wasn't satisfied with one District 11 gold.
The following day he dominated the Class AA 500 freestyle. Pielmeier's time of 4:50.34 was 11 second faster than the second place finisher.
"Karl had a great performance at districts," said his father Karl Pielmeier, who served as Palmerton's volunteer coach this season. "Karl's success is a direct result of his unbelievable work ethic. There might be swimmers who are more talented, but there is no one that works harder.
"Karl set goals for himself before the season and then went out and achieved them. He did everything in his power to make sure he maximized his potential. To travel almost two hours round trip for practice and do it six days a week takes a lot of dedication, especially when you consider that he wasn't part of a team. He didn't get to experience the excitement of winning meets or competing in front of his peers. It was just constant practicing."
Pielmeier, a senior who is ranked first in his class academically, made the daily trip to Kids Peace in Bethlehem to practice with the Parkland Aquatic Club. He was joined by his sister Kaite Pielmeier and Sawyer Allen, both of whom also medaled at districts, in making the commute.
"It was definitely a challenge to stay motivated," said Pielmeier about the grind of traveling for practice and not being able to compete in many meets during the season. "We attended invitational meets at Muhlenberg and East Stroudsburg University early in the season to get seed times for districts. After that, it was just practice.
"To be honest there were some days when I would think why am I doing this, but then you realize that if you want to make your dreams and goals come true, this is what you have to do."
Reaching his district goals also meant that Pielmeier qualified for the PIAA State Championships. At states, he finished ninth in the 500 with a time of 4:45.56 and 14th in the 200 IM with a time of 2:02.48
"I just loved going to Bucknell University for states," said Pielmeier. "In addition to the unbelievable atmosphere I got to experience, I loved the challenge of getting to swim against the best kids in the state."
At states, Pielmeier made his final high school swim a memorable one.
"In the 500 free, which is my favorite event, I was able to take five seconds off my personal best," said Pielmeier. "I was hoping to swim a personal best coming into the meet and to be able to turn in the time I did on that type of stage was really exciting.
"It was a great way to cap my high school career."
For Pielmeier, it was a senior season that he will never forget.
Thanks to the swimming banner in the Bomber gymnasium that will now have his name on it, no one else who attends Palmerton High School will be able to forget it either.