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The Storm's Alannah Klemann dives at start of the final leg of the 400 Free Relay.

I couldn't be more proud of this crew

Jason Westervelt, the coach of the Schuyler Storm girls varsity swim team -- the IAC and seven-time Section IV, Class C champion consisting of athletes from the Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour high schools -- has submitted the following account of that seventh sectional tournament, held on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023 in the WGHS pool.

By Jason Westervelt

This weekend the Storm Swimming and Diving team took to the pool to compete for the Section IV, Class C Championship.

The meet was highlighted by ten (10) first-place finishes out of 12 events. (There were 11 events held at the Saturday swim meet; the 12th, diving, was held separately on Nov. 3 in Elmira and won by a Chenango Forks entrant.)

The top of the podium was first occupied by the 200 Medley Relay team. The relay of Malina Butler, Lizzi Fitzwater, Cara Reynolds and Aubrey Klemann weren't expected to win the meet. Dryden and Lansing both had strong relays, but the foursome held nothing back in the finals, dropped 3 seconds from their prelims time and won the meet by 3 seconds.

In the 200 Free the Storm brought back all four (4) of their athletes in the top 8, finishing 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th -- accumulating 64 points for their team. The 200 Freestylers were led by Thalia Marquez placing 1st and Aubrey Klemann placing 2nd. This was one of our strongest events all season and one of the strongest 200 Freestyle crews in the entire section.

In the 200 IM Lizzi Fitzwater, new to the event, swam a great prelims time to make the top 16 by dropping 11 seconds. In finals she dropped another second and took 11th place overall. Claire Lewis (8th place), Kendra Fish (2nd) and Alannah Klemann (1st) all finished in the top 8. Klemann and Fish have been solid in this event all season long.

Emily Melveney, who started swimming the 50 Free halfway through the season, swam a personal best time in the event to take 1st place over Lansing's Flynn Ivery, who beat Emily in the IAC Championship. Malina Butler had a solid swim, taking 4th place, and Skye Cummings rounded out the top 8 with a big time drop in prelims, eventually taking 6th place. Lauren Signor swam a personal best time in prelims to make the top 16 and swam to a 13th-place finish in the finals.

Emily Melveney took to the pool again in the 100 Fly, swimming a 1:04.95 in finals to win the event. Cara Reynolds swam to a second-place finish with a scorching 1:08.66. Skye Cummings, who had a huge time drop in prelims to make the top 8, finished in 4th place. Kaylin Smith, the 4th flyer in the meet for the Storm, took on a very tough roll for her team and finished 12th. I couldn't be more proud of her team attitude and effort.

In the 100 Freestyle, Aubrey Klemann came into the finals seeded 2nd. She posted a lifetime best :58.31 to win the meet. It was an unbelievable performance. Paige Ells, 8th grader, posted a lifetime best 1:05.62 at finals -- almost 3 seconds faster than her seed time -- to take 7th place. Paige was the youngest top 8 finisher in the meet! Lauren Signor dropped 2 seconds in prelims and matched her time in finals to take 13th place overall.

The 500 Freestyle saw the largest and most significant time drops for the Storm. Riley Brooks dropped 21.45 seconds to move into the top 16, where she swam to a 14th place finish at finals. Caelyn Baker dropped 11.51 seconds in prelims to move into the top 8 finishers, eventually taking 8th place at finals. Claire Lewis also dropped a staggering 11.48 seconds to take 6th place. Thalia Marquez swam to a first-place finish, dropping 2 seconds from her prelims swim and winning the event by 23 seconds!!

The 200 Freestyle Relay of Emily Melveney, Alannah Klemann, Kendra Fish and Thalia Marquez combined to drop 3 seconds in finals to take 1st place and swim one of the fastest times in the section: 1:44.13. The girls swam very well together; it was a true team effort.

The 100 Yard Backstroke was the other event where the Storm brought back all 4 athletes in the top 8. Alannah Klemann posted the fastest time in Section IV with a 59.89. Kendra Fish swam a lifetime best of 1:03.49 in prelims and posted a similar time in finals to take 2nd place. Malina Butler posted a lifetime best of 1:05.92, taking 3rd place, and a newcomer to the sport, Cordelia Thompson, posted a lifetime best 1:10.74 to take 4th place!! Taking the top 4 spots on the podium is one of the most difficult things to do in this sport at this level. It was an outstanding achievement. On top of that, the Storm Backstroke crew is the strongest in the entire Section.

The 100 Breaststroke saw huge time drops by Paige Ells (-4.4 seconds) and Kaylin Smith (-2.8 seconds) in the prelims. Unfortunately, they just missed the top 16, but their performances in prelims were an inspiration to the rest of our team. Riley Brooks and Lizzi Fitzwater had great time drops in prelims to make it back to score for the Storm at Finals. Riley swam to a 14th place finish, swimming a personal best time by 1.26 seconds. Lizzi made the top 8 after dropping 1.05 seconds in prelims, posting a 1:24.16; and dropped an additional 2.68 seconds to move into 7th place.

Rounding out our meet was the 400 Freestyle Relay, where our squad took to the water in the quest to be the fastest relay in Section IV and make the New York State Championship meet. The team of Thalia Marquez, Alannah Klemann, Kendra Fish and Emily Melveney posted a 3:47.09. It was just under a second short of the state meet, but it doesn't take away from their total team effort. It was a great way to end the meet

The Storm Swimmers and Divers had a great season, posting an undefeated record, and winning both an IAC Championship and a Sectional Title. I couldn't be more proud of this crew. They worked hard all season and accomplished many of our team goals.

Photos in text:

Top: Storm Coach Jason Westervelt yells encouragement to one of his swimmers.
Second: The Storm's winning 400 Free Relay squad. From left: Emily Melveney, Kendra Fish, Alannah Klemann and Thalia Marquez.
Third: The Storm's Riley Brooks dives at start of the 500 Free. She placed 14th.
Bottom: Storm swimmer Kaylin Smith competes in the 100 Fly. She placed 12th.


© The Odessa File 2023
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869