Coleman overcomes nerves, takes 2nd in IM

LEWISBURG — For the first time in a long time Lewisburg’s Christian Coleman felt this nervous prior to a swimming race.

The extra nerves sparked from an outstanding showing in the prelims of the 200 individual medley which saw Coleman earn the No. 2 seed in the championship swim.

“I honestly didn’t think I would get second,” said Coleman, who was seeded 10th entering the race. “I was coming into the meet knowing I would have to really work to get where I was last year.”

Coleman reached the podium, posting a time of 1 minute, 54.40 seconds in the medal swim for a second-place finish on the first day of the PIAA Class AA Swimming Championships at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium. His move on the podium was only a couple inches higher than where he was last year, but it felt much higher.

“It’s not even real in this moment,” Coleman said. “It’s kind of crazy, because it’s just surreal. It’s seems a lot higher.”

After Jersey Shore’s Jordan O’Connor completed the final leg of the 200 free relay, she looked up and saw the extended hand of her teammate. She knew it was her final time in the pool, but it was still a good feeling.

Jersey Shore entered as the 10th seed in the event, which meant a swim in the night’s final was anything but promised.

“We had a really great first race,” O’Connor said of the morning swim. “Dropping time was big for us and exciting. We were just really pumped for the race.”

O’Connor, who has stepped into a leadership role for the Bulldogs early in the season, gathered her team after the early swim. She had them stretch together and talk about the upcoming swim.

The bonding appeared to work as the group opened strong and maintained to finish 12th in the state in 1:40.81.

“We talked and did things as a team to get closer,” O’Connor said. “It really got us ready for this. We don’t have Emma (Butzler) this year, which was a really big loss, but we showed everyone we could do it. We gained Taylor and did it for us. It was a proving moment for us.”

Montoursville’s Sam Jordan placed 18th in the boys 200-yard freestyle, just missing out on the night swim, posting a time of 1:47.99, which bested his district meet time.

District 4 was well represented on the first day of the PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Shamokin’s Abby Doss repeated as 200 IM champion and Sayre’s Josh McClelland, after a swim-off to reach the final heat, finished third in the 50 free.

“They’ve just been cheering me,” Coleman said of the other District 4 swimmers. “They have been cheering me on and it’s just one big team when you’re at states.”