ldquo Going for glory rdquo

Bickel breaks Section II record for backstroke and heads for States

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Jenna Bickel set two different swimming records last weekend at the Section II Championships as she prepares for her fourth consecutive trip to state competition.

Bickel, a junior at Guilderland, who swims for the Guilderville team, broke the Section II record in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 56.24 and set a new record for Shenendehowa’s pool in the 50-yard freestyle with a mark of 24.28. She finished first in both events at sectionals for the second straight year.

“I was nervous before the race because I really wanted the record,” said Bickel, who is ranked first statewide in the backstroke. “I knew I was going to be close.”

Bickel beat the previous 2003 backstroke record by .05 seconds and she did so without being tapered. In swimming, coaches usually taper athletes, cutting back their practice schedules, before big races in order to get optimal performance out of them.

“The swimmers yardage is cut down shortly,” Guilderville Head Coach Brenna Autrey said of tapering. “You want their bodies and muscles to have time to recuperate prior to a big meet. Practices are shorter and we work more on turns and starts. It’s a recovery period.”

So, Bickel’s record in the backstroke was even more impressive because she wasn’t tapered for the sectional event when she had been in the past. “I didn’t know what to expect,” Bickel said. “But, it worked out for me.”

Autrey told The Enterprise that Bickel would be tapered in time for the State Championships in Buffalo on Nov. 18-20. “Jenna has a lot on the line,” Autrey said. “She’s going for glory.”

During Halloween weekend, while the rest of the Guilderville team was starting to taper, Bickel traveled to Colorado Springs for the National Select Camp at the Olympic Training Center. She’s qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials next year.

Bickel had one practice on Thursday, Oct. 28 and none on Sunday, but two each on Friday and Saturday. Between practices, Bickel sat in meetings to talk about swimming and motivation. She was one of 30 girls and 30 boys, all the best young swimmers in the country.

“We all seemed to fit right in with each other,” said Bickel of the other athletes she met. “The practices were fairly hard, so I think it really helped my growth.”

The National Select Camp featured sessions from Brian Goodall, an Olympic winner from the 1970’s; Josh Davis, an American record holder prior to Michael Phelps; and Missy Franklin, a member of the United States National Team.

“They gave us great pointers,” Bickel said. “It was really cool.”

Since Bickel is ranked first in the state in the backstroke, her chances to win are very good. “Just hope and pray,” said Autrey. “Her last race was the best I’ve ever seen from her.”

Bickel hopes to post 55 seconds in the backstroke and 23 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle. “I really want it,” she said.

Team results

The Guilderville team finished fourth overall at sectionals with a score of 227 points. Guilderville combines swimmers from both Guilderland and Voorheesville, since Guilderland doesn’t have a pool.

Bickel, Kendall Cietek, Mackenzie Cietek, and Reynalyn Canchela placed second in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:41.24. The group will be racing at States.

“They swam lights out,” Autrey said.

Helen Merkley, Hannah Liu, Kendall Cietek, and Nicole Das had a time of 3:55.06 in the 400-yard freestyle relay to place fifth. Bickel, Das, Canchela, and Mackenzie Cietek were fourth in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:55.62.

In the diving competition, seniors Kristi Russell and Alexa Patnaude took ninth and 10th place with scores of 331.60 and 327.80. Mackenzie Cietek was seventh in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 56.39.

More Sports

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.