Saturday, February 04, 2023


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Sports Article
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Umstead Strikes Gold at District Swimming
Written by Ernie Quatrani Correspondent

Upper Perk's Brandon Umstead led the Indian swimmers at the District I swim meet by winning gold medals in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.

        Three Upper Perk swimmers will be taking the ultimate road trip next week when they travel to Bucknell for the state championships.

        Brandon Umstead, Mitch Cairns and Kirsten Siwy will be making the trek after scintillating performances in last week's District I Championships at LaSalle University.

        Umstead captured gold medals in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke, Cairns finished fifth in the 500 freestyle and Siwy was fifth in the 100 free and the 200 free, headlining an outstanding district meet by the entire Upper Perk team.

        Umstead cruised to victory in the 200 IM, almost five seconds ahead of his nearest rival, Tyler Chamberlain of Springfield Montco.

        "I knew he was a very good breaststroker," Umstead said of Chamberlain. "He took first in the district, so I knew I had to get out ahead in butterfly and backstroke, and I did. Come breaststroke, I was a good five seconds ahead of him. I kind of calmed my race down a little bit and I finished pretty decently, [but] not as strong as I could have."

        That makes Umstead feel that he can do even better at states, where it is tough to cut time because of the contracted time between meets.

        "I have a lot of room to improve for the states, I think," the Upper Perk senior said.

        Umstead also benefitted from knowing his chief rival in the backstroke, Michael Prior from Pottsgrove.

        "He's a great racer. He usually has a fast second half of  the race. I'm a first half of the race kind of guy, so I pushed out as hard as I could in the first half."

        Umstead's time was 54.25, Prior's 55.07.

        "Brandon's goal this season was to be a double district champion and return to the state championship meet," noted Upper Perk coach Brien Kalnoski.  "He met both those goals.  He had a very good meet."

        Umstead also had a hand in Cairn's stunning performance in the 500 (5:04.91), where he beat his personal best by a whopping nine seconds.

        Umstead held the lap counters for Cairns at the end of the lane.

        "Brandon Umstead's been a great little coach out there," Cairns said. "He counts for me, does all my signals. I strategize with him continuously. I know he's going to keep me fired up; he's going to keep me going as fast as I can."

        The UP junior left everything he had in the water.

        "I got out of the pool, I almost kind of blacked out. I remember being hugged by my coach who was halfway down the pool."

Siwy, also a junior, set personal bests in both of her events, recording 54.38 in the 100 free and 1:57.09 in the 200 free.

        "I was nervous in the beginning, but calmed myself, told myself I just want to have fun here," Siwy said. "Before I went up on the block, I was very calm and I gave it my best."

        Like Umstead, Siwy will benefit from the experience of having been to states before.

        Kirsten feels "more prepared this year than I was last year. I definitely won't be as nervous either since I know the atmosphere."

        She, too, is anticipating improvement at states through better starts, turns and breakouts.

        "I definitely want to come back at states and try to make consolations, drop my time even more."

        Kalnoski was ecstatic about the performance of his all of his swimmers at the event including Tyler Reed, Joel Williams, Ryan Mercando, Cameron Junk, Jackie Hammill, Melissa Kilroy and Julia Cupitt. In 20 swims the team dropped time in every single event. In 17 of the swims, Upper Perk swimmers recorded career best times.

        Kalnoski estimates that during the course of the season, the team swam a total in excess of 350 miles in training laps.

        "To say that I was pleased and incredibly proud of them and their efforts all season would be a huge understatement."






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