CLIFTON PARK – Sometimes three isn’t a crowd.
The original plan for the Suburban Council girls’ swimming and diving championships was for the top two teams to face off Saturday afternoon in a dual meet format at the Shenendehowa Aquatics Center.
That plan anticipated Shen facing off against Niskayuna, but last week the Plainsmen tied Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake/Scotia-Glenville in the final dual meet of the regular season.
So the Suburban Council decided for the three to race together in one grouping, while other Suburban Council programs competed at other pools throughout the day. The entire day’s results would be collected from all the pools and sessions to determine a champion.
Other programs competing were Albany, Ballston Spa, Bethlehem, Guilderland/Voorheesville, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady/Colonie, Shaker and Troy/Averill Park.
Official scoring was not available at press time, however, the consensus among the coaches after Saturday’s final races were completed was that Shenendehowa is the presumptive Suburban Council champion.
In the end, it was a memorable day in the Shenenehowa pool.
“It is nice to have three teams here, I think that definitely helped add to the atmosphere,” Niskayuna coach Alyssa Seligman said. “A lot of great swims from all three teams. At the end of the day that’s worth it — being a team, [having] great races, dropping time and I think across the board everyone did that.”
Despite having just three teams spaced out on the Shen pool deck, the girls’ cheers, chants, and screams filled the venue and gave it a familiar feeling like the traditional Section II championships.
But there were no spectators adding to the deck’s swimsuit-clad cheerleaders due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I did miss [like] for sectionals last year coming out of the tunnel and having the music and everything,” Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake junior Ally Frame said. “It felt just like a dual meet, but it was bigger.
“You had more time to relax and get ready for your races and go.”
Frame captured the 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke events in the final session, breaking two program records.
Her time of 57.07 seconds in the backstroke broke Katy Cerrito’s 20-year-old mark, the longest-standing girls’ swim record for the team. Her first-place freestyle time broke the record held by 2005 graduate Dani Stein.
“I knew going into the meet what I had to do to really thrive and do the best I could,” Frame said. “I had those records in the back of my head.
“I just wanted to swim as fast as I could, and if I broke the records, I broke the records.”
Shenendehowa senior Alice Han took home multiple honors Saturday afternoon. She claimed the top spot in the session in the 200-individual medley and was honored as the Suburban Council scholar athlete for the 2020 season.
“I know I work really hard in school, but it’s not like I expected to get recognized, but I really appreciate it,” Han said.
She welcomed the chance to compete with rivals Niskayuna and BH-BL/S-G.
“I think our whole team got much more excited when we found out that Burnt Hills was going to be in it too,” Han said. “Especially after our dual meet [85-85 tie], we reflected on ourselves and realized that we could still put in a lot of hard work to come out on top.”
With the championship hosted at multiple pools, teams racing at different times, competitors had to swim fast and then wait for the results to become official. It’s similar to large US Swimming meets with multiple flights in each swimming event and age categories.
The more experienced swimmers took Saturday’s format in stride.
“I think that’s a huge advantage that they do swim club year-round for the athletes,” Shenendehowa coach Alyssa DiFabio said. “It helps them prepare mentally, emotionally, physically for these types of meets.”
If Shenendehowa does indeed come out on top when the results become official, DiFabio would earn a championship in her first season. She was named the new girls’ swimming coach earlier this year.
“I’m happy that it is this way, [with] no sectionals, no states. I’m happy that we have something that these girls can have at the end of the season,” she said. “I just helped them get here. They put that work into the pool, they got up on those blocks and they raced their hearts out.”