Swimmers overcome lack of depth for successful season


Tom Rekowski

Shaler swimmer in meet against Penn Trafford

Dominic DiTommaso

Shaler Area sent four Titan swimmers to the WPIAL Championships after 4-7-1 (boys) and 4-8 (girls) finishes to the 2021-22 season, the second year under head coach Ms. Abi May.

On the boys side, seniors Derek Forrester and Jacob Bacasa and juniors Lorenzo Basa and Noah Long took part in the WPIAL Swimming Championships at the University of Pittsburgh. The group placed 20th in the 200 Medley Relay and 21st in the 200 Freestyle Relay. Individually, Long placed 19th in the 200 Freestyle and 14th in the 500 Freestyle.

“It’s always a wonderful experience knowing you were able to make it,” Bacasa said. “But with things like the relays, it makes it better because you’re with your teammates. WPIALs itself is a greatly exciting experience. There’s a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment for even being there, knowing that your hard work paid off.”

Forrester added to that by reflecting on his time at the event and what it meant to him.

Everyone looks at the record as the big picture of a team’s season and success, but our success came from individual accomplishments that unfortunately is not depicted by a record.

— Ms. Abi May

“It was awesome,” Forrester said. “It was a really cool experience staying that extra two weeks and going to Pitt and swimming against all those other people. I’m really thankful to the other guys in the relay for pushing so hard and the coaches for motivating us to go.”

Bacasa and his three fellow swimmers were able to make the WPIAL cut following a 1:36.78 finish in the 200 Freestyle Relay against Gateway, making the 1:37.00 mark.

“[Getting to the WPIAL Swimming Championships] is a combination of hard work, determination, and the drive to want to get there that to me are the foundation for how you end up there,” Bacasa said. “Swim is a challenging sport, but seeing and taking note of the improvements you make and how close you are to making it can easily spark that determination to push through and give your all to make it.”

For the regular season, May noted that the teams’ records were an result of lack of depth and not lack of talent.

“Despite our record, our team did very well overall,” May said. “The thing we lacked the most this season was depth. We were able to come in first or second in almost all of our events we swam, but we did not have enough swimmers to round out scores for third through fifth place (since the scoring only goes to 5 of the 6 finishers in each individual event). Because of this, our overall team score is low but when you look at how many of our swimmers finished in first or second places in events it is amazing to see how much we actually won.

“Our team record should not be a focus for us, nor should it define the accomplishments we had this season. It overshadows our accomplishments since everyone looks at the record as the big picture of a team’s season and success, but our success came from individual accomplishments that unfortunately is not depicted by a record.”

Senior Aidan Brophy focused on individual success as well, noting that it outweighs the lack of team success.

“It was a good season this year,” Brophy said. “We had losses on a team level. We had wins on an individual level, and that’s all that matters.”

The Titans will be losing nine swimmers and a diver for next season, and are not bringing in many replacements from the incoming freshman class.

“Unfortunately, depth will be an issue for us next year too,” May said. “We again will need to focus on bettering our individual and relay times throughout the season rather than trying to win the meet overall.  That was a focus of mine for our team this year, and it will be a focus for next year’s team as well.”