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Swimming championships are great, even for non-swimmer

I walked into the Magnolia Middle School Tuesday night and right down the back stairs to the pool deck.

If I had made that walk before, I clearly do not recall it. I do remember, though, the last time I was at that pool. It was in my daughter Kelsey's freshman year of high school. She's now a junior in college at Slippery Rock University.

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It was that year that she decided to swim at the high school level, after having competed a few years earlier in the Aberdeen Penguins program.

That was also the last year she swam, at least at the high school level, and quite frankly, that didn't bother me.

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So, since that time, there have been a few changes and the biggest is what put me at the Magnolia pool both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Since Aug. 8, I have basically been a one-man sports department. That said, I, the non-swimmer, covers swimming.

That's why I was there and what prompted this column.

I have been writing these swimmers' names since December and now I was going to watch them compete and talk to some as well. It was a good two nights.

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Shockingly, the first event of the night on Tuesday, was a disqualification for the winning team from C. Milton Wright. It was just when I was going to look for the CMW swimmer whose third leg of the race put his team ahead.

Luckily, I learned of the DQ, so my focus was detoured. Minutes later, the young man charged with the infraction, Colin Hildebeidel, was back in the pool and winning the 200 free quite comfortably.

This was a sign of a champion. Disappointed that he let his team down, he gets back in the pool and scores big. We all know, it could have gone the other way. Focus lost, emotions stirred, etc.

It seems that my story on Tuesday's event has stirred the emotions even more. Young people, listen up. Life isn't a great big bowl of sweet cherries. It's quite the opposite. We all make mistakes, it's what we do about them that counts.

So, the meet went on and despite the hiccup, the Mustangs rolled to their fourth straight championship.

On Wednesday, it was the girls turn. Can I just say that the girls I talked to were wonderful. Not that the boys were not, but the girls, for the most part, are just so much easier to talk to.

One of those young ladies was Allissa Lyons of Havre de Grace. Needing a quote for our other paper, I chatted briefly with Lyons. Lyons is a senior who I remember from the softball field some six or seven years ago.

Lyons didn't win a gold medal in either of the events she swam , but finding a spot on the podium twice and getting under a minute in her 100 free race was special to her.

No one had the night of CMW's Julia O'Mara. I have seen her on other athletic fields, but she was lights out in the pool, winning four gold medals. Twin sister Lauren O'Mara added three golds.

Congratulations to all the county champions and place winners. Best of luck to all who are moving on to compete at the regional level next weekend.

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