SWIMMING: Expect Amherst Steele to have state qualifiers

By Jason Hawk - jhawk@civitasmedia.com

Mary Bartek graduated 13 swimmers this past year.

Now she’s coaching 13 boys, 28 girls,and one diver as the 2015 season ramps up, with hopes of a strong district showing for the Comets and even some state qualifiers.

“We have a lot of returning swimmers who made it to districts last year, which is good, but we’re always looking for bigger and better swims,” Bartek said.

The Amherst coach said spectators should watch for seniors Matthew Pecze and Ally Thorson to make waves again this year while also keeping eyes on returning junior Olivia Walther and fast sophomore Nathan Moore.

“It’s going to be unbelievable. My relays are going to be strong, especially my boys, but my medleys are going to be there too,” she said.

Unlike some swim coaches who try to pinhole kids into events, Bartek said she aims to test their skills across a range of races.

Under that pressure, Thorson holds top 10 finishes in every event in the water. “Having that versatility is what allows them to be faster in the long run. Plus it keeps people guessing,” Bartek said.

And cutting kids isn’t an option.

If you don’t swim but show up to practice, Bartek said she’ll teach you.

Her other goal is to have swimmers grow together.

“They are a team. They stick together. They really become family. They talk about when the first start not being quite sure about that, but by the end of the season it’s impossible to break them apart,” she said.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk