SOL Swimming Notebook (1-6-15)

Swimmers from Council Rock North, Central Bucks East & Upper Dublin are featured in this week’s notebook.

National Conference

Samson looking to finish strong - Time has really flown by for Council Rock North senior Rachel Samson.

“The last four years have been great and I’m really sad this is my last year,” she said. “North swimming has been a big part of my life and I love it.”

At the beginning of her freshman year Samson’s mother, Karen, died suddenly.

“I felt a lot of support from the team when my mother passed away,” she said. “They definitely helped me get my mind off of that and got me through it.

“Swimming in general was huge for me because it was a great way for me to move forward after that.”

She is a team captain this year along with Madison Schluchterer, Becca Segel and diving captain Jess Traub.

“They’re an awesome group to be a captain with and I hope we’re going to lead the team to a good year,” she said.

Last year the Indians won the Suburban One League National Conference, but it was a tight squeeze. They tied Pennsbury in the dual meet and had to win it at the conference championship meet.

“We definitely want to swim our best against Pennsbury and win the league again but if we don’t get it but everyone does their best, then that’s still OK,” she said. “We’re really looking for fast times and district cuts.”

Her personal goal is to get back to the District One Class AAA meet and she’s eying the 200-yard freestyle.

“That’s my target event, but I’m also hoping to get out on a relay,” she said.

College plans aren’t firm yet but she is considering Scranton and Arcadia and hopes to become a physical therapist.

“Wherever I go, I definitely want to swim in college,” she said. “It’s hard to give that up.”

Continental Conference

Villari has sights set high - Central Bucks East’s Collin Villari has been looking forward to this season.

“I’m really excited about being a senior, being a captain and leading my team,” he said. “I think we have a very strong team.”

The Suburban One League Continental Conference is one of the toughest around, but Villari thinks that’s a good thing.

“If you perform well, it means that much more because it’s so difficult to do well in the Continental,” he said. “I wouldn’t want it to be easier so I like where we are. It boosts the competitiveness of our team and that always helps times.”

Villari made it to states last year in the 200 individual medley and as the leadoff of the 400 freestyle relay.

“I’m focused on the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke,” he said. “I’d like to get close to a 1:51 in the IM and a 51 or a 50 would be perfect in the backstroke. I’m talking to college coaches and that’s where I need to be.

“My goal is to make it back to states in the IM and also this year to make it in the backstroke. I just missed in the back last year. I’d also like to see us get a relay out. I’m the only guy back from last year’s 400 free relay so I’m not sure about that one but we’re looking to the medley relay this year.”

His top college choice is West Point.

“It’s looking good to go there, but I need to get my times down,” he said. “I’ve been interested in West Point since eighth grade. A former swimming colleague, Chris Szekely, went there and that’s why I became interested.”

He is also considering the Rochester, Emory and Delaware with chemical engineering as his major.

American Conference

High expectations for Johns - Upper Dublin’s Jenna Johns finished off last season with a big flourish.

After finishing eighth in the 100-yard butterfly at the District One Class AAA meet and just getting into the PIAA meet, Johns wound up taking sixth at the state meet.

“Getting to states last year and getting a medal was amazing,” said Johns, now a junior. “That was way beyond my expectations.

“After the district meet, I was kind of sad but my coach told me he thought I’d make it and we’d just focus on that,” she said. “I did make it and whatever we did in between the district meet and the state meet, we did it right.”

While getting to states last year is a huge confidence boost for Johns, it also brings with it higher expectations.

“I definitely feel more pressure this year to do it again,” she said. “But we have a great team and I think that will help me out.”

She is optimistic about the season for the Cardinals.

“We got in a lot of good freshmen this year and they’re giving us more depth than we had last year,” she said. “We want to win the conference. That’s our goal this year and we’re looking forward to the league season.

“For myself, I want to be able to push myself to be my best and also hopefully push my teammates to be theirs.”

This year she played water polo for the first time.

“I loved it,” she said. “I got all conference and all-state honorable mention so it was a good choice for me but more important I had so much fun. I highly recommend it for any swimmer.”

She has not chosen a college but would like to swim and hopes for a major in marine biology.