Eleven members of the YMCA of Indiana County Piranhas swim team competed in the State Games of America in York on Aug. 1-2. Competing against athletes from across the USA, Piranhas swimmers claimed 25 gold, silver and bronze medals, the highest total won by any single team.
“These kids work really hard all year long and it’s really rewarding to see everything come together for a big meet,” said coach David King.
Indiana was paced by senior leaders Gabby Bobak and Samantha Wargo. Bobak earned medals in each of the five events she swam, including golds in the 200 individual medley and 200 breaststroke.
“We all trained really hard this summer and waited to taper until the last moment,” Bobak said. “Everyone on this team really gets along and is committed to winning.”
Wargo finished first in the 100 butterfly and took two bronze medals, while Grant Hess claimed four individual firsts (100 backstroke, 200 backstroke, 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke). Sophie Manges also claimed four medals, including gold in the 200 freestyle and two silvers in the 500 freestyle and 200 individual medley.
“We work really well together,” said Wargo. “We compete against each other but we have fun and cheer each other on.”
Anna Manges took two individual silvers (200 backstroke, 100 butterfly) and joined her sister Sophie, Mackenzie Kessler and Poconos-area swimmer Nicole Lukesh to win a gold for Pennsylvania in the girls’ 13-14 medley relay. Mackenzie Kessler also bagged a bronze in the 100 breaststroke.
Preston Kessler, a 6-year-old swimming in the 8-and-under division, won silver in the 25 breaststroke and bested three 6-and-under team records (50 freestyle, 25 backstroke, 25 breaststroke).
Julia King earned a gold in the 8-under 25 breast and was on a silver medal-winning 100 medley relay team.
Also competing in the event and improving their personal best times were Gage Hess, Harley Kessler and Ava King.
“I was very pleased with the outcome,” said Indiana coach Mark Hess. “We had a couple of really good weeks at practice to end the summer season, and every swimmer here exceeded my expectations. I never thought we’d win so many medals.”