Area swimmers head off to states

Even though he is just a high school junior, Hollidaysburg’s Mace Long is a veteran when it comes to swimming at the PIAA state championships. Central freshman Taylor Flaugh, however, enters her first state meet as a rookie. Both will compete this week at Bucknell University as the final meet of the season gets under way.

“I really would like to see her make the finals, which is in the top 16,” Central coach Amanda Herr said of Flaugh. “I think she has swum in so many big meets that she should be fine. She is used to them.”

Flaugh just spent the past weekend competing at the Mid-Atlantic Junior Olympics in New Jersey. Long’s weekend was spent in Ohio at the 2013 YMCA West District Championships, where he swam well enough to qualify for nationals.

Flaugh will compete in the 200 freestyle in Class AA, which runs Wednesday and Thursday. Long competes in Class AAA, which takes place Friday and Saturday. Long will swim in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke.

“My goal is to make the top 16 for the evening finals for the first time in both my events,” Long said.

Long believes his workout regimen has prepared him for states this year.

“This year, I didn’t taper for high school districts or any other swim meet during the season,” he said. “Since this is my one big taper, I expect to drop more time off my personal bests. I am doing a unique cross circuit type of weightlifting program that I can do in my house with free weights, a medicine ball and a step aerobic platform. I have also done a lot of swim workouts every weekend as well as the weekday practices.”

Flaugh isn’t worried about being tired, coming from the Junior Olympics to the state meet.

“I had meets during the season where I would swim all weekend then have a high school meet on a Monday and it didn’t affect me,” she said.

Hollidaysburg coach Deb Solomon isn’t worried about Long being tired from his weekend jaunt, either.

“I expect him to swim faster than he did at districts. I think he can make the top 16 and I think he can do it in both events, but there are a lot of fast kids out there,” she said. “We will see.”

Flaugh won the 200 freestyle gold at districts, while Long took gold in the 100 butterfly and silver in the 100 backstroke. Even though he finished second, his time was more than good enough to get him to states again.

“I think he is more mature, more confident,” said Solomon, who will be going to states for the third time with Long. “This year, he did not taper for districts for the first time and that is why I think he swam faster this time. We are hoping this time he will have his best performance at the state meet.”

Flaugh’s goals are simple for her first trip.

“I want to better my time from districts and hopefully make the finals. It’s going to be difficult, I know, but I think I can do it. The times are all hard, but I think I can better it enough to make it to the finals.”

The Pennsylvania Cable Network will air the semifinals and finals this weekend. Class AA girls action will air at 8:15 p.m. on Friday and at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday. Class AAA boys action will air on Saturday at 9 p.m. and on Sunday at 4:45 p.m.