BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — The result was not a victory, but the Niskayuna boys swimming and diving squad left its Jan. 29 meet against Shenendehowa with confidence as the sectionals approach.
The Silver Warriors fell that day at Shenendehowa Aquatics Center, 107-77, but a pair of Niskayuna swimmers — Ethan Bachert and Aidan Strayer — recorded qualifying times for the state championships, while several other competitors turned in season-best performances.
“It’s a very young team for us, with a lot of potential to be great,” said Niskayuna head coach Steve Hall.
“This is a good point in the season to realize [our potential] with the big one coming up.”
That “big one” is the sectional meet, a three-day affair that begins Feb. 12 back at Shenendehowa. At that competition, Bachert and Strayer will be the top entries for the Silver Warriors, though both now have the times they need to continue competing past the sectionals.
“That gets the pressure off them,” said Hall. “Now, it just lets them go to the sectional meet and just swim.”
Against Shenendehowa, Strayer won both the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle, the latter with a time of 4:48.51, which qualified him for the state championships; meanwhile, Bachert took the 100 butterfly in 53.12 seconds to qualify for states.
Bachert has been one of the top sources of optimism for the Silver Warriors this season, and that’s despite the swimmer joining the team only a few weeks before the end of 2014. Bachert — who attended Niskayuna for a couple years early in his schooling — had been living in Australia for the past several years before recently moving back to the area.
While Bachert has quickly moved to get himself into the swing of things with the Silver Warriors, he said his unfamiliarity with area swimming did not faze him in going up against the Plainsmen, the eight-time defending sectional champions.
“I don’t really understand — or know — the history of who is the best,” he said. “I just knew it was a really nice pool here and that my coach . . . was telling me these guys were really good and that I needed to bring my ‘A’ game.”
And, for the most part, that’s what the Silver Warriors did during a meet that essentially served as a dress rehearsal for sectionals. Besides Bachert and Strayer, Hall said he was excited to see strong efforts from swimmers such as Spencer Brownewell (second place, 100 backstroke) and Neil Horne (second place, 50 freestyle).
“They threw down the kinds of splits we knew they could throw down,” Hall said.
Also adding strong individual performances for the Silver Warriors were Trevor Matuszyk (second place, 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke) and Jack Newton (second place, diving).