Elmira Notre Dame got maximum impact from its small roster at Saturday’s Dr. Jack Thomas Girls Swimming and Diving Invitational at Elmira Free Academy.
With a roster of five swimmers, the Crusaders managed to finish fifth out of six teams with 95 points in Division C.
Not only that, freshman Frances VanderMeer already has a spot for Notre Dame secured in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championship meet after her winning time of 24.59 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle topped the state standard.
The Crusaders’ lineup also includes Catherine Craig, Molly Craig, Dillan Leonard and Sofia Harris.
This is the first season for a girls swim team at Notre Dame, whose athletes are training with Elmira swimmers at Elmira Free Academy under Express coach John Sentigar.
“(Elmira athletic director) Tom Morrell and (Sentigar) were both willing to let our girls come over and swim alongside their girls,” Notre Dame athletic director Steve Weber said. “They’re the ones who made it happen.
“We’ve had a couple of girls we knew were pretty strong swimmers swim through clubs who came through probably the last few years.”
Weber said Notre Dame has wanted to offer swimming to its girls for a while. He and former Elmira City School District athletic director Jeff Manwaring discussed a potential combined team, but the Southern Tier Athletic Conference would not allow Elmira to combine with a non-STAC school.
Because of budget reasons, schools are combining their resources in more ways. Morrell is athletic director for both Horseheads High School and Elmira, and Mike Coghlan is the director of facilities at Horseheads and Thomas A. Edison.
Given that the state is encouraging more shared efforts and Notre Dame does not have its own swimming pool, Weber is hoping the STAC will re-evaluate its stance on merged programs, opening the door for a combined Elmira/Notre Dame swim team.
For now, Weber is happy to see girls at his school get the chance to swim at the high school level.
“We’re hoping everything goes well and they’ll be receptive for us to be able to continue to do this,” Weber said. “We’re taking it on a year by year basis.”
More swim success
VanderMeer was not alone in punching her ticket to the state meet at the Dr. Jack Thomas Invitational.
Horseheads junior Mary Edwards topped the state standard in the 200 individual medley with a winning time of 2:09.26 and the 100 butterfly with a winning effort of 58.37. Edwards, who was named the meet’s Most Outstanding Competitor, finished 17th in the 200 IM at last year’s state meet.
Edwards is second in the state individual rankings for both the IM and butterfly.
The team victory in the A Division for Horseheads over perennial Section 4 power Ithaca was also noteworthy. Those teams will meet in one of the most anticipated dual meets of the season at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Horseheads.
The state meet will be held Nov. 22-23 at Ithaca College.
Watkins Glen eighth-grader Alexis Castelleneta broke Waverly’s 1-meter diving pool record for a dual meet Tuesday with her score of 241.6 points. Watkins Glen won the meet, 107-79.
Castellenata was coming off a third-place finish at the EFA invitational with an 11-dive score of 342.50.