The Shenendehowa girls swimming team returned to the top of the Section II mountain after a four-year absence at last Saturday's championship meet at RPI.
The Plainsmen won the Class A team title with 399.5 points, 78 points ahead of defending champion Bethlehem. Niskayuna finished third with 287 points, while Saratoga Springs (265 points) and Shaker (249 points) rounded out the top five.
I couldn't ask anything more out of my kids, said Shen coach Pat Seligman.
Kara Zebrowski, Olivia Samson and Kelsey Barbour led the way for Shen. Each swimmer won one individual event and swam on two first-place relays to help the Plainsmen claim the Class A title and set themselves up for a potentially big performance at the state championships next weekend at Erie Community College in Buffalo.
"You have to have perfect swims at the state meet in order to get to the finals or the consolation finals, and they understand that," said Seligman.
Other Shen swimmers sealed the team title simply by making the finals. The Plainsmen had more than one representative in five individual event finals, which guaranteed them significant points no matter how they finished.
"When the kids came into the (preliminary round) Thursday, I had some kids who were seeded 18th or 10th in their events, and they realized that they needed big swims to get to the finals," said Seligman. "And, they did just that."
Shen set the tone with a dominating performance in the 200-yard medley relay. The team of Zebrowski, Barbour, Samson and Chloe Sosnowski finished with a time of 1:51.11, less than three seconds off All-American consideration time. Samson, Barbour and Zebrowski later teamed up with Lisa Liu to win the 400 freestyle relay title in a time of 3:41.38.
Bethlehem freshman Bethany Powhida gave Eagles fans something to chirp about when she won the 200 freestyle in a time of 1:55.95. Niskayuna's Emily Whitaker was second in a state meet-qualifying time of 1:56.72, and Saratoga Springs' Taylor Sloane finished third in a time of 1:57.03 to punch her ticket to Buffalo.