NETHER PROVIDENCE — When they started their high school careers, Camille Jablonski and Summer Martin weren’t quite sure what to expect.
They knew they had the swimming part of the equation down, coming from a club background with Suburban Swim Club. But the vagaries of the high school season — the complex task of integrating with older teammates and their established roles — were something about which the freshmen had their doubts.
As District One heads to its championships Friday and Saturday at La Salle University, the Strath Haven freshmen are but two representatives of a youth movement from the Delco contingent.
Delco freshmen aren’t just qualifying for districts, an accomplishment in and of itself. The deep class of Delco rookies constitutes a significant faction of the pack vying for qualification for states.
And whatever happens at La Salle, they’ve proven through the season that age doesn’t mean all that much on the blocks.
“I think that it’s impressive about how well our grade is doing at dual meets,” Jablonski said Monday before practice. “I think it will be fun once we get older and we’re juniors and seniors to see how we’re doing and if any other grades below us have something similar to what we’ve been able to do this year. I think it shows about our work ethic and how hard we’re working at practice.”
The common thread running through the group is obvious: Club swimming. Martin and Jablonski train at Suburban with Garnet Valley’s duo of Jordan Stansfield and Nikki Cannon. The Ridley Rays have supplied Ridley High School’s Gab Rudy and Springfield’s Georgia Apostolu. And the Main Line freshmen standouts like Haverford’s Ilira Zherka and Radnor’s Sasha Smolyansky and Emily Moyher also trace their swimming foundations to clubs.
Those aquatic upbringings have put them well ahead of the high school curve.
“It’s more comfortable to know that you’re competing with people your age, knowing that you’re not the only freshman who’s up there at districts or Centrals or whatever,” Martin said. “It makes things a lot more comfortable and less awkward.”
Their success has precedent: Two Delco freshmen qualified for states from the District One meet last year, Haverford’s Maddie Hart (in two events) and Ridley’s Kiera Wadsworth.
Should the seeds hold, this year’s crop could outstrip that number. Rudy enters as the second seed in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 individual medley, with a very good chance to race for the title in the former. Martin is seeded second in the 50 freestyle and third in the 100 free, and a bevy of freshmen have seeds in the low-to-mid teens. A solid taper, a little luck and they could enter the conversation.
With automatic qualifying spots going to the top four finishers and at-large bids to the next 16 fastest times statewide, District One can get anywhere from five to nine swimmers in per event, opening the door for plenty of state debutants.
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