By John Knebels
Sports Columnist

It’s well known that swimming is a year-round sport. So it shouldn’t be surprising that, while spring sports have been practicing (and in a few cases, already competing) for about a month already, there are many swimmers who have remained focused on adding yet another trinket to their burgeoning trophy case.

Take, for instance, Villa Maria Academy sophomore Sarah Hitchens and La Salle senior David Speese.

After setting a 100-yard freestyle record during Villa’s ninth consecutive District 1 Class AA championship two weeks earlier, Hitchens helped her teammates snare the PIAA state title March 17 in Lewisburg when she acquired gold medals in both the 100-meter freestyle and 400-freestyle relay. She had also garnered gold one day earlier in the 200-freestyle relay.

“Very exciting,” said Hitchens, summarizing both the inspanidual and team outcomes. “There is some great competition the higher you advance, and what we were able to do shows how hard we worked for this.”

Hitchens isn’t predicting whether or not the Hurricanes will be able to defend their title next year, but she would never bet against her teammates.

“We’re pretty motivated,” she said. “Winning (states) was a very special feeling. Once you experience something like that, you want to experience it again.”

Meanwhile, La Salle’s Speese won the state title in the 100-meter breaststroke and helped the team of sophomore Joe Maginnis, junior Luke Maguire and junior Eric Schultz set a state record in the 200-medley relay. Aided also by a third-place finish in the 400-freestyle relay (Speese was the second leg in that race), the Explorers finished second in the state.

Holy Ghost Prep’s Daniel Gosek also won two state titles, including a triumph in the 100-meter freestyle.