- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Although she was concerned about it going into the PIAA Class AA swimming championships, not having a morning preliminary swim had no negative impact on West York senior Courtney Harish.

This year’s schedule had to be delayed by a day and turned into a timed-finals event because of this week’s nor’easter. Still, Harnish made the pool at Bucknell University her personal playground on Thursday.

Harnish broke her own PIAA 200-yard freestyle mark she set as a freshman in 2014, by more than a second with her swim of 1:44.73.

“At first I was a little bit upset and I started stressing out a little bit,” Harnish said when she heard about the schedule change.

“I was so used to having two chances, two swims, so I had to get myself in that mentality of I am only swimming once. When I came in for our practice today I kind of set myself like it was prelims and I am coming back for finals.”

She won the event by nearly six seconds.

“I am not surprised. I am pretty sure that is what she was trying for,” West York coach Nicole Flowers said.

Harnish, who did not swim for her school as a sophomore or junior, definitely set out to break her own mark.

“I think honestly it means more to me to break my own, just because on top of breaking a record, you break a personal best,” she said. “There was definitely pressure, but I think it was more coming from myself wanting to go under personal bests.”

Two other records were broken on the first day, both in the boys’ competition.

Gabe Castano of Allentown Central Catholic took down a 50 freestyle mark that was set in 2011 when he swam a 20.50. He said he didn’t mind not having preliminaries, adding that he was shooting for the record.

“I actually had a really long turn. I could have gone a little faster, but I can’t complain about that,” he said. “I was actually happy about it, less swims, less energy.

The senior is looking forward to swimming at Penn State next season.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet. This is where I started it all. I started my freshman year with no experience,” he said. “I am really excited and really happy with where I have been.”

The Grove City 200 free relay team ended the first day in style when the team of Marcus Swartfager, Rockwell Pokrant, Devin Reynold and Will Rastatter swam a 1:24.77.

That time broke a record set in 2009 by Hershey.

Wyomissing’s Nathan Elzer was impressive in winning the 200 IM by a second and a half. Elzer’s time of 1:52.62 was a personal best and avenged his second-place finish at the District 3 championships.

“It feels really good,” he said. “After districts, I mean, I didn’t do as well as I thought I would, so getting gold feels pretty good. I took it out a lot faster than I did at districts. . It wasn’t great, but it got the job done.”


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