- Associated Press - Saturday, March 18, 2017

LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) - When Gateway’s Olivia Livingston hit the wall during Saturday’s first day of the PIAA Class AAA girls swimming championships, the entire Kinney Natatorium - especially the other swimmers - roared their approval.

Only a freshman, Livingston did something special to deserve the accolades as her 50-yard freestyle time of 22.73 not only earned her a gold medal, but broke a 5-year old state record.

Surprisingly, the record wasn’t really on her mind.

“I really don’t think about much when swimming because it’s over pretty quickly,” she said. “I just made sure that I went fast and did everything that I focus on in practice.”

For someone who started swimming at age 8, Livingston knows she has come a long way in a short amount of time.

“It makes the hard work worthwhile,” she said. “I want to go to the Olympics someday, so I just want to keep working hard and doing something like this.”

Still, for someone with such high aspirations, Livingston said her first emotion was relief, especially with it being her first PIAA championship swim at Bucknell University.

“I feel relieved because I was so nervous. I am always nervous,” she laughed. “I knew some girls would have more experience in this pool than me.”

Gateway coach Jonathan Moore wasn’t surprised by Livingston’s swim or her reaction to it.

“She’s a sweet kid all around. A great student and a great athlete,” Moore said. “Her parents have done a lot to help her get where she is. She’s swimming seven days a week. She puts the effort in and it shows.”

While North Allegheny’s Mason Gonzalez didn’t set a PIAA record, he didn’t miss by much, posting an incredible time of 19.99 to win gold in the 50 freestyle.

“At the beginning of the year I set that for myself and every practice I was thinking I’ve got to work towards this under 20,” he said. “It was by .01, but I did it.”

Ironically, Gonzalez swam the 200 and 100 free at states last season but became more of a sprinter this year.

“It was partly because our team needed more people in the 50, but also because of last year in the 200 free relay I showed a lot of strength as a leadoff,” he said.

Gonzalez’ win was one of three North Allegheny golds on the day, along with a silver. The medal brigade included breaking the state record with a 1:20.95 in the 200 free relay that capped the night in incredible fashion.

Amazingly, he wasn’t even on that 200 free relay. The foursome was Jack Wright, Rick Mihm, Maxwell Gonzalez and Eben Krigger. Mihm swam a 19.92 split and Krigger went 19.99.

Mason Gonzalez was on the Tigers’ 200 medley relay that opened the meet with a gold-medal time of 1:30.79, teaming with Andrew Zhang, Mihm and Maxwell Gonzalez in that swim.

Zhang won a silver in the 100 butterfly with his 49.84 and Maxwell Gonzalez earned a fourth-place medal in the 200 individual medley.

With 179 points, North Allegheny sits comfortably atop the team standings heading into Sunday’s second day of the competition, delayed by winter storm Stella.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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