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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 10, 2011

Bickel breaks her record, now going for state record in backstroke at Buffalo

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Jenna Bickel will be the unanimous queen of the 100-yard backstroke if she can top Kim Holden’s New York State record of 53.98. She already won a state title in 2010 and broke her own Section II record on Saturday.

Bickel, a Guilderland senior, won her third straight 100-yard backstroke championship in Section II on Saturday with a time of 55.44, breaking her previous mark of 56.24. She finished three seconds ahead of Bethlehem’s Tara O’Donnell in second place.

Three seconds is an eternity in swimming.

“I’m working hard for the record, but it won’t be easy,” said Bickel, who signed to Penn State University on Wednesday. “I’ll have a good chance if I do everything correctly.”

Bickel started tapering on Monday for the state meet, which will be held in Buffalo on Nov. 18 and 19. Tapering is a way for swimmers to peak at the right time by decreasing yardage over a series of days. Then, when the meet comes around, the swimmer gets the best performance.

“Your muscles get really tired over the season,” Bickel said. “Tapering allows your muscles to recover.”

Bickel’s time in the backstroke has been steadily dropping since she joined the Guilderville swim team in eighth grade. She swims all year round with the Delmar Dolphins and will be competing in the Olympic Trials next summer.

“The state record is her goal,” said Guilderville Head Coach John Urbanski, who took over the team this year. “It’s been a real positive experience. She told me what she’s done in the past and we tried to get the best results. It’s been great.”

Along with the backstroke, Bickel will be competing in the 50-yard freestyle at states after finishing third in Section II with a time of 24.63. But, she won’t be alone. Seniors Mackenzie Cietek, Kendall Cietek, and Helen Merkley will be swimming in the 200-yard freestyle relay with Bickel.

“I’m so happy that our team made it,” Bickel said. “It’s more fun that way. All four of us are really confident. It should be a great weekend.”

Bickel’s backstroke time of 55.44 is three-tenths of a second faster than that of Morgan Fairclough of Monroe-Woodbury and half a second better than Gabbie Toback of Bellmore-Merrick. That will be Bickel’s competition and she’ll see where she falls after preliminary runs.

However, Bickel’s toughest opponent will be that clock and the time of 53.98.

“I love to do well,” said Bickel. “Great times equal great feelings.”

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