Swim team eyes championship in new section

Northgate Avonworth swimmers Nick Madey and Karen Siddoway are breaking records as the team remains undefeated in its new WPIAL section. Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

Following what Northgate-Avonworth swim team coach Jessie McKelvey describes as being a new section “adjustment period,” before becoming more focused and unified, she is quick to tell anyone that this year’s team is doing well.

How well? Very well. Undefeated, record-breaking well!

“We always have exciting swims each meet for all kinds of reasons. I think the most notable this year is Karen Siddoway clenching all of the girls’ individual records. All the girls’ relays are now broken, so the girls’ side of the board has been cleared and all the holders are current swimmers.”

Also, against Springdale last week, sophomore Nick Madey broke the 100 breast record that had stood since 1983. By coincidence, McKelvey had been talking to the former record holder just the night before.

“It was cool to be able to tell him the next day that his record had finally been broken! We only have the 50 free and the 200 free to clear on the boys’ side, and the board will be wiped clean!” she said.  

The entire team contributed to the Springdale victory, the boys winning 91-72 and the girls winning, 86-70.

Nick said that this is probably the hardest season the team has ever been up against, but he believes his teammates have a good chance of winning the section title.

“If we win in our new section, we also become somewhat of a powerhouse. For now, we have to focus on winning the section, building and improving, and getting to the WPIAL championship.”

Karen, also a sophomore, loves the victories, but sees even more than that in the sport.

“It’s not all about winning. It's about being there for each other as a team, whether it's cheering each other on at the end of the lanes during a meet or just getting through a rough set in practice. We are much more than a team. We are a family. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season!

Coach McKelvey said that two very challenging section meets are coming up, first against Knoch and then against Shady Side Academy.

“They will be our toughest competition in this new section,” she said, “but we are all extremely motivated to win. This section has been more competitive and it’s been really great. It would be great to win two different sections in two seasons, and I think we have a shot.”