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Lightning Caps Breakout Season with Trip to YMCA Nationals

Lightning Swim Team Caps Breakout Season with Trip to YMCA Nationals

The Skaneateles Lightning Swim Team, Central New York’s premier competitive swimming program, earned high marks in back-to-back regional championship meets in March. The Lightning’s standout championship season showing followed a regular season in which the team took its second annual pilgrimage to the elite ABF Trials/Finals invitational meet in Boston and qualified 15 year-old AJ Teixeira for four events at the 2018 YMCA National Championship meet in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Thirteen Lightning swimmers traveled to Webster, New York from March 8th through March 11th to compete in the 2018 Niagara District Championships meet. The Lightning finished 11th overall out of 58 clubs, up six places from 17th in the 2017 meet. Skaneateles was the highest-scoring club from the Central New York region and placed second in the bid for Small Team High Point Champion.

Ten-year-old Lightning swimmer Alice Bender (Skaneateles, NY) won gold medals in the Girls 10 & Under 100 Yard Individual Medley and 50 Yard Butterfly. Bender also had top-10 finishes in the 100 Yard Freestyle (5th) and 50 Yard Freestyle (7th). Several other Lightning swimmers recorded top-ten finishes, including:

  • Zach Drotar (Skaneateles, NY) in the Boys 11-12 50 Yard Butterfly (10th) and 100 Yard Butterfly (9th)
  • Morgan Kingsley (Cazenovia, NY) in the Girls 13-14 100 Yard Breaststroke (9th)
  • Justin Nowicki (Syracuse, NY) in the Boys 11-12 400 Yard Individual Medley (2nd), 200 Yard Individual Medley (3rd), 100 Yard Freestyle (2nd), 100 Yard Individual Medley (2nd), 200 Yard Freestyle (3rd) and 500 Yard Freestyle (2nd)
  • Alex Shuron (Warners, NY) in the Boys 13-14 100 Yard Butterfly (10th)
  • Alice Spaulding (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 11-12 200 Yard Individual Medley (5th), 100 Yard Freestyle (6th), 100 Yard Individual Medley (6th), 50 Yard Breaststroke (2nd), 100 Yard Breaststroke (4th) and 50 Yard Freestyle (7th)
  • Hana Spaulding (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 13-14 200 Yard Freestyle (6th)
  • AJ Teixeira (Skaneateles, NY) in the Boys 15 & Over 200 Yard Individual Medley (3rd), 200 Yard Freestyle (5th), 200 Yard Breaststroke (5th), 400 Yard Individual Medley (7th), 100 Yard Freestyle (10th) and 100 Yard Breaststroke (8th)
  • Jonah Williams (Skaneateles, NY) in the Boys 11-12 200 Yard Breaststroke (5th), 50 Yard Breaststroke (9th) and 100 Yard Breaststroke(10th). 

The Lightning fielded two top-10 relay teams in the Girls 13 & Over division. Morgan Kingsley , Hana Spaulding , Ashley Drotar (Skaneateles, NY) and Lily Buchholz (Skaneateles, NY) placed 6th in the 200 Yard Freestyle Relay and 9th in the 200 Yard Medley Relay.

Justin Nowicki and Alice Spaulding were the Lightning’s top individual scorers at the meet with 124 and 115 points, respectively.

Lightning Head Coach Seth Williams attributes the team’s strong performance at Niagara Championships to his swimmers’ dedication throughout the season. “Our young athletes understand our workout and meet schedule and are using it to their advantage. They now realize the individual sacrifices that need to be made to become a strong team. It’s been a pleasure to watch them grow,” Williams said.

A week after the team’s breakout performance at the Niagara District Championships, 20 Lightning swimmers headed west again to compete in the 2018 New York State YMCA Championships meet held in Buffalo from March 16th through 18th. The Lightning finished 11th out of 38 teams, up from 16th place in 2017.

Four Skaneateles swimmers took YMCA State Champion honors: Alice Bender won the Girls 9-10 100 Yard Individual Medley; Justin Nowicki won the Boys 11-12 200 Yard Individual Medley and 200 Yard Freestyle; Hana Spaulding won the Girls 13-14 200 Yard Freestyle; and AJ Teixeira won the Boys 15 & Over 200 Yard Individual Medley. Lightning swimmers with other top-10 finishes included:

  • Alice Bender (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 9-10 50 Yard Backstroke (4th) and 50 Yard Butterfly (5th)
  • Lily Buchholz (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 15 & Over 100 Yard Backstroke (2nd) and 100 Yard Freestyle (9th)
  • Ashley Drotar (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 15 & Over 50 Yard Freestyle (10th)
  • Morgan Kingsley (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 13-14 200 Yard Individual Medley (4th) and 100 Yard Breaststroke (3rd)
  • Ari Matthews (Skaneateles, NY) in the 9-10 Girls 100 Yard Freestyle (3rd), 50 Yard Breaststroke (6th) and 200 Yard Freestyle (3rd)
  • Justin Nowicki in the Boys 11-12 100 Yard Freestyle (3rd)
  • Luke Olmsted (Manlius, NY) in the Boys 8 & Under 100 Yard Freestyle (8th)
  • Elaina Omans (New Woodstock, NY) in the Girls 8 & Under 50 Yard Freestyle (3rd), 100 Yard Freestyle (5th) and 25 Yard Freestyle (6th)
  • Erich Omans (New Woodstock, NY) in the Boys 13-14 500 Yard Freestyle (5th)
  • Terry Omans (New Woodstock, NY) in the Boys 15 & Over 100 Yard Backstroke (5th)
  • Alex Shuron (Warners, NY) in the Boys 13-14 200 Yard Individual Medley (7th), 100 Yard Backstroke (8th) and 100 Yard Butterfly (5th)
  • Alice Spaulding (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 11-12 200 Yard Individual Medley (3rd), 50 Yard Freestyle (2nd) and 50 Yard Breaststroke (3rd)
  • Hana Spaulding (Skaneateles, NY) in the Girls 13-14 50 Yard Freestyle (2nd) and 100 Yard Freestyle (3rd)
  • AJ Teixeira (Skaneateles, NY) in the Boys 15 & Over 500 Yard Freestyle (2nd) and 100 Yard Breaststroke (4th)
  • Ben Wells (Skaneateles, NY) in the Boys 13-14 500 Yard Freestyle (6th) and 100 Yard Backstroke (6th)
  • Jonah Williams in the Boys 11-12 50 Yard Breaststroke (10th)

Justin Nowicki with 56 points and Hana Spaulding with 53 were the Lightning’s top individual scorers at the YMCA State Championships meet. AJ Teixeira broke a meet record in the 400 Individual Medley, a non-scoring event, with a time of 4:11.06.

“Our swimmers built on the previous weekend and delivered an outstanding performance at the YMCA State Championships,” Coach Willams said. “Their accomplishments are proof positive that the swimmers’ commitment to our tailor-made training regimen produces results.”

Leading up to championship season, 16 Lightning swimmers competed against some of New England’s top talent at the elite ABF Trials/Finals meet at Boston University in early January. Justin Nowicki and AJ Teixeira each won individual events at the meet and 10 other Lightning swimmers scored top-10 finishes.

A month later, at the CNY YMCA District Championships meet in early February, Teixeira broke a nearly 30-year-old meet record in the 200 Individual Medley with a time of 1:59.55. Lightning Head Coach Seth Williams previously set the record as a 17-year-old in 1990.

Teixeira’s stand-out season will culminate with a trip to the 2018 YMCA Short Course National Championship meet in Greensboro, North Carolina from April 3rd to April 7th to compete against some of the top age group swimmers in the U.S. Teixeira qualified in four individual events: 400 Individual Medley, 200 Individual Medley, 200 Breaststroke and 100 Breaststroke.

Coach Williams anticipates qualifying more of his swimmers for YMCA Nationals in the 2018-2019 season. “AJ will be traveling to North Carolina with some of his teammates next year,” Williams said. “These young athletes are working out 15-16 hours a week and some of them have yet to miss a practice this season. Their hard work will continue to pay off as these swimmers are becoming relevant not just regionally but also nationally.”

Williams said the Lightning Parents Committee has approved a winter training trip at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for the team’s senior swimmers in 2019.