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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, Octobe 20, 2011

Guilderville senior swimmers ending their Section II pool careers, say goodbye

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– Jenna Bickel, a Guilderland senior, has won many swim races in her five-year Guilderville career, including a state title in backstroke, but the relationships that she’s built over that time is what she’ll remember the most.

“It’s always about the team,” Bickel said on Tuesday after Senior Night ended with a 98-to-79 win over Mohonasen-Schalmont. Guilderville cheered loudly through the entire event, which included a ceremony for the eight seniors. The team combines swimmers from Guilderland and Voorheesville since Guilderland has no pool.

“I love everyone,” said Bickel. “It’s really sad that this is the last time I’ll swim in this pool. I’ll miss this team a lot. All the team bonding; the priceless stuff.”

Also saying goodbye to the Voorheesville pool were Mackenzie Cietek, Kendall Cietek, Jess Cohen, Rosemary Crowley, Jackie Cunningham, Rachael Degnan, and Helen Merkley.

The majority of the Guilderville swimmers have set personal records and qualified for the Section II prelims on Nov. 4 at Shenendehowa. The team is under the direction of a new head coach, John Urbanski, who took over from Brenna Autrey.

“It’s been an awesome time,” said Urbanski, 24, who also substitute teaches while finishing up his masters degree in English at The College of Saint Rose. “They’re the best group I could have asked for. They never complain and know how to have fun.”

Urbanski has spent the last five years coaching the Guilderland YMCA Cyclones. He started swimming at the Woodlin Club, where he now coaches during the summer. He mentioned JoAnn Faucett and Connie Miller as a “big catalysts” for his swimming and coaching career.

“I love working with younger kids and helping them out,” Urbanski said. “Also, personality-wise, too.”

Bickel, who leads the New York State 100-yard backstroke rankings with a time of 58.74, has been impressed with Coach Urbanski. “He’s so enthusiastic about everything,” she said. “I was nervous at first, but he’s a great guy.”

Urbanski told The Enterprise that he knew Autrey from the YMCA and that she more or less got him the job. “She gave me some encouragement and showed me the works,” he said.

Tuesday’s swim meet was over in a hurry, paving way for a pleasant walk-through for the seniors and their parents. Four events into the meet, Guilderville was ahead, 45 to 17.

“This has been a developing work,” said Urbanski. “I’ve seen glimpses of true potential from these girls. It’s paying off right now. They’re a real confident team.”

Bickel will be defending her backstroke state title in November, but she’s hoping that her 200-yard freestyle relay team can join her in Buffalo. Bickel, Merkley, and the Cietek twins are ranked third in Section II with a time of 1:43.51. The group won by almost 12 seconds on Tuesday.

“You think about finishing,” Bickel said. “Just go!”

The cheering was loud, but Guilderville is used to all the screaming, which bounces off the walls.

“It’s been a blast,” Urbanski said. “They keep me smiling.”


Here are some Section II leaders from Guilderville:

–– 200-yard medley relay, fourth, 1:57.56;

–– 200-yard freestyle, Kendall Cietek, 19th, 2:05.34;

–– 200-yard individual medley, Jenna Bickel, seventh, 2:14.28;

–– 50-yard freestyle, Kendall Cietek, sixth, 25.45;

–– 50-yard freestyle, Bickel, seventh, 25.47;

–– 50-yard freestyle, Helen Merkley, 10th, 25.61;

–– Diving, Kathryn Liotta, 14th, 182.70;

–– 100-yard butterfly, Bickel, ninth, 1:02.88;

–– 100-yard freestyle, Mackenzie Cietek, ninth, 55.22;

–– 100-yard freestyle, Bickel, 12th, 56.18;

–– 100-yard breaststroke, Bickel, 8th, 1:13.30; and

–– 400-yard freestyle relay, seventh, 3:54.75.  

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