OSWEGO — The six Oswego High School varsity girls swimming qualifiers have seized every second over the past month preparing for their chance to shine at the state championships.
The Buccaneers recently returned to their rigorous training roots following area postseason competition before easing back in the past week leading into the state meet, slated to begin with preliminaries today and finals scheduled for Saturday at Ithaca College.
Senior Sydney DeLapp will make her third appearance and compete in the maximum four events for the first time to lead Oswego. She has advanced to states every season since she was a freshman, but the meet was canceled last season due to COVID-19 concerns.
“To be able to go back to states one last time and have a full season, it’s just been amazing,” DeLapp said during a recent training session. “We’ve been doing sets that are harder than ever, but our mind-set is just to go get it right now.”
DeLapp will be competing in the 200 freestyle and 100 free events while partaking in a pair of relays. Fellow senior Grace Wing is making her second trip to states and first as an individual competitor when she races in the 50 free and 100 butterfly.
The duo will also compete together in the 200 free relay and 400 free relay races along with sophomore Ciarrah Tynan and senior Mallory Upcraft.
The 200-medley relay team also qualified and will consist of Tynan, Upcraft, freshman Joscelyn Coniski and junior McKenzie Partlow.
The group spent the week of Nov. 9-14 working out with a return to morning weight room sessions and determined practices of two-plus hours in the pool.
“I think because it’s my senior season my focus has been just to finish up strong and leave a legacy that I can be proud of,” Wing said. “No matter the tough practices that we’ve had, I’ve tried to embrace them, and just to think to myself that this is what I’ve worked for all these years, I really want to push it and go get it at states.”
This weekend will mark the first time in coach Josh Lerch’s 16-year tenure that two swimmers will compete in individual events, and also the first time with all three relay teams in the field.
The seven events are the most Oswego will be represented in during Lerch’s time at the helm.
The Buccaneers qualified one relay team for the first time in five years at the most recent state meet conducted in 2019 and took their success a step further this fall despite last year’s condensed and delayed season held last spring with no state competition.
“I think keeping each other accountable (was key),” DeLapp said. “I mean we had a 16-month break between 2019 and our 2020 season, so picking each other back up. In the spring, our times were just not there, and we had to pretty much ignore them, but now we’re faster than ever, so just supporting each other and doing what (Lerch) tells us to do has helped us pick it back up.”
Oswego will look to maintain momentum from prior postseason meets after claiming five of 12 events in the Section 3 Class B championships for a fourth-place team finish.
The Buccaneers posted the third highest score of 23 teams at the state qualifying meet on Nov. 7 despite bringing just six swimmers total, the same group that will compete at Ithaca this weekend.
“We were a top seed and that gave us something to push for and something to strive for,” said Upcraft, a sixth-year varsity senior. “In the past we were such a young team, so that really drove us through to those last few events and the showing at state qualifiers just proved that we’re a good, sound team, even with just the six that were there.”
Tynan joined DeLapp and Wing as the three returning state competitors that represented Oswego in 2019. Upcraft also made the trip as the relay alternate.
Partlow and Coniski said that the experience of their teammates has aided their own preparations to debut on the big stage.
“It helps a lot, it’s a big meet and a lot of anxiety can come with it, and already being there can help with the new people going and help with your nerves,” said Tynan, who was in 8th-grade at her first state meet. “You can also be the role model for other people who get nervous.”
Partlow added: “They give us a lot pointers on what to bring, what to do and not to do there, what we should be doing in the pool to improve and not hurt ourselves getting ready, different things like that.”
“I’m just excited in general and I’m ready, a lot of adrenaline” Coniski said.
The Oswego 200 free relay team of DeLapp, Wing, Tynan, and Aunna Metelsky placed 25th in the 2019 final after advancing through opening day preliminaries.
Lerch believes the team displayed signs of being poised for an even better showing this weekend.
“They swam really well at our league meet leading up to sectionals, then we had lots of great swims at sectionals, then made states in two more relays, and really, I know we can go faster,” Lerch said.