Niskayuna is young but experienced as it seeks to repeat as area swimming champions

Olivia Hilt swims the 100 butterfly at Niskayuna's girls' swimming and diving meet Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)Olivia Hilt swims the 100 butterfly at Niskayuna's girls' swimming and diving meet Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

BY MICHAEL KELLY
Gazette Sportswriter

NISKAYUNA — With only three seniors on its roster, the makeup of the Niskayuna girls’ swimming and diving team has a unique feel to it this season.

“We have that weird mix,” head coach Steven Hall said. “Our team is young, but we have a lot of experience.”

“And, we’re working very well together,” said Beca Piascik, who is joined by Darby LaFlamme and Anna Vitolins as the only seniors on this year’s roster.

Team members do a cheer together in the water during Niskayuna's girls' swimming and diving meet Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Team members do a cheer together in the water during Niskayuna’s girls’ swimming and diving meet Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

That showed in the team’s opening meet of the year, a 98-82 home triumph Sept. 9 against Mohonasen/Schalmont in Suburban Council action. Niskayuna, the defending Section II Division I team champions, won eight of the 10 events in which it fielded scoring competitors.

It was the kind of start that Niskayuna was expecting from itself, as it returns several swimmers who made it to the state championships a year ago. The team’s goal to repeat as sectional champions has been loudly stated with great frequency since the start of its preseason.

“It’s driving us,” LaFlamme said. “You never know if you’ll be good enough at the end of the season to win, but we want to work for that. It’s been driving us since the first day of practice.”

Beca Piascik waits to swim in the 100 backstroke at Niskayuna's girls' swimming and diving meet Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

Beca Piascik waits to swim in the 100 backstroke at Niskayuna’s girls’ swimming and diving meet Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)

That drive showed itself in the Silver Warriors’ opening meet. Besides competing with intensity, the Niskayuna swimmers were challenged with something extra from their coach.

“We wanted to go really far under the water off our first dive,” Vitolins said. “That’s when you win your races, and we want to make sure we’re doing that better than our opponents.”

While the competition against Mohonasen/Schalmont was Niskayuna’s first of the season, Hall said he had a basic reason for challenging his athletes with an extra task during the meet.

“If we want to be as great as we say we all want to be, that’s a step toward it,” he said.

With a ways to go before the early-November sectional championships, Niskayuna expects to be ready to defend its title when the time comes around. Its next challenge? Continuing to help the team’s younger swimmers progress.

While some of the team’s more youthful members have already had great success — such as sophomore Clare Stansbury, who competed at last year’s state championships as a freshman — others are working their way toward becoming regular contributors for the Silver Warriors.

“They’ll bloom, and that’s great for us,” Piascik said.


Niskayuna’s event winners from its meet against Mohonasen/Schalmont:

  • 200 medley relay: Beca Piascik, Christina Lau, Olivia Hilt, Anna Vitolins — 1:58.61
  • 200 freestyle: Maggie Wyngowski — 1:58.96
  • 50 freestyle: Anna Vitolins — 25.83
  • Diving: Maddie McCarthy — 184.12
  • 100 butterfly: Olivia Hilt — 1:03..03
  • 100 freestyle: Clare Stansbury — 56.87
  • 500 freestyle: Maggie Wyngowski — 5:18.41
  • 100 breaststroke: Evelyn Bushway — 1:18.69

About the Author

Michael Kelly
Michael Kelly is a sports reporter for Your Clifton Park and Your Niskayuna, weekly print publications of The Daily Gazette. Kelly grew up in Clifton Park and graduated from Shenendehowa High School in 2006. He is also a 2010 graduate of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism. Kelly's work has been honored by the New York News Publishers Association, the New York State Associated Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. His work has previously been featured in The (Amsterdam) Recorder, The Saratogian, and Albany Times Union.