During a strange 2021 season for the Wellsboro swim team, the underclassmen team of Hayne Webster, Caralyn Warner, and Madison Robbins overcame insurmountable odds to turn in an extremely successful season in 2021.
“In general, this was a rough season because the season was cut so short,” Wellsboro Swim Coach Michele Warner said. “We had no spectators (other than parents of seniors at the home pool), no invitationals, many meets were canceled due to weather or COVID and pools were closed which meant less practice time. While swimmers can stay in shape with general dryland workouts, there is no substitute for pool time.”
With three underclassmen swimmers on the roster, they practiced any way they could during the year to improve, and with every competitor performing at a high level, the Wellsboro swim program looks to be in good hands with these young athletes.
“We had one swimmer practice at a hotel pool and two joined a club swim an hour away just to get in practice time,” Warner said. “The biggest thing in their favor is that they are freshmen and sophomores and I fully expect them to improve over the next couple of years.”
Sophomore Webster and freshmen Robbins and Warner all found alternative ways to compete and get time in the pool to improve this season and their hard work came to fruition in the postseason as they competed with the best of the best in the NTL meet and District 4 meet this season.
“Madison Robbins and Hayne Webster trained this season and competed with the Jersey Shore YMCA team, traveling to Jersey Shore five evenings a week when their high school was open for practice,” Coach Rebecca Dodson-Webster said. “When weather or COVID closures occurred, they swam at hotel pools or regional YMCAs. Webster, Robbins and Warner swam as independent swimmers with high schools in the Northern Tier and District 4. This allowed them to record times, but not be counted in the actual meet scores.”
With only three swimmers, the Wellsboro swim team was able to qualify all three for the District 4 Swim Meet this season with all of them producing some of their best performances on the biggest stage in 2021.
Webster headlined the group in 2021 and during the NTL meet this season churned out two first-place finishes with a win in the 200 individual medley and repeated as the winner of the 100-meter backstroke with times of 2:24:20 and 1:07:70 respectively.
He set personal bests in both events in the NTL meet to get a chance to compete at Districts.
Warner also carved out a nice finish during the league meet and picked up two second place finishes during the meet with a 28:43 time in the 50-meter freestyle and a time of 1:12:05 in the 100-meter backstroke competition.
Robbins picked up a third place finish in the 50 freestyle just behind her teammate with a time of 29:82 and finished fourth in the 100 freestyle with a time of 1:05:15.
The Wellsboro swimmers exceled during the meet and continued their season at the PIAA District 4 meet on Wednesday, March 3 and Thursday, March 4.
During the meet, things were a little different than seasons past.
Only the top 16 swimmers would get the chance to advance versus a much larger number of swimmers getting the opportunity to compete on the next level.
“Since the championship pool is eight lanes, this permitted only two heats per event,” Dodson-Webster said. “This challenged swimmers to work for not only a qualifying time, but to be ranked highly throughout the district. All three Wellsboro swimmers advanced to the district meet this year, each choosing two individual events to swim.”
For the boys, Haynes continued his stellar postseason, finishing in sixth place in the individual medley with a time 2:19:05, shaving five whole seconds off his record from the NTL meet just a week before.
Haynes also followed that outing up with another personal best day in the 100-meter backstroke, with another sixth-place finish in a time of 1:04:52 (two seconds faster than his NTL meet time).
Warner picked up top 10 finishes in both of the events she competed in during the District meet, with a 10th place finish in the 40 freestyle with a time of 28:43 and a ninth-place finish in the 100 backstrokes where she clocked in with a time of 1:12:14.
Rogers finished off her freshmen season with a 15th place finish in the 50 freestyle and set a personal best in the 100 breaststrokes where she finished in seventh place and finished with a time of 1:21:35 (six seconds faster than her previous best).
Webster was the only swimmer from Wellsboro whose season will continue as he qualified for the Pennsylvania YMCA Regional Swimming Championships, which will be held virtually on Saturday, March 13.