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Pennridge swimmers soak up club experience

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Reese Trauger and Maggie Sullivan both swim for the Pennridge Aquatic Club in the summer, but they are very different.

Trauger, 18, is a grizzled veteran of 10 years, having started as an 8-year-old and swimming straight through, including a standout career at Pennridge High School, where she recently graduated.

Sullivan, also 18, is strictly a summer swimmer. She also recently graduated from Pennridge, where she was active in the music program.

There is a place for both on the Pennridge Aquatic Club summer team.

“High school is really competitive,” Trauger said. “It’s all about times. It’s really tense. It’s a lot of fun, but summer swimming is a completely different dynamic. You have all the littles running around and the coaches are just so excited to see us come and swim. There’s a lot less pressure and the whole thing is just fun.”

She enjoys the opportunity to teach younger swimmers.

“I definitely try to help the little kids and that’s so much fun,” she said. “It’s been hard for me this season because I got a job at Quakertown for coaching in the summer so it’s interesting seeing both sides of things.

“I said to a bunch of the coaches here that my favorite part is coming back here and feeling like I’m family. The other team I love but I’ve been coming here since I was 8 years old so this is where I came from and where I grew up. The group of people I came up with is great.

Everybody just gives each other hugs and the whole entire thing just feels like a family.”

She plans to attend Grove City College, where she will compete on the swim and water polo teams while majoring in biohealth/pre-med with a minor in psychology.

Trauger is coming to the end of her summer swimming career, and is savoring the final moments.

“I think the best part is our senior class is really, really tight,” she said. “The coaches say that they’ve never seen a class like it and that’s the reason why I like coming back to it so much. It’s because the coaches have been coaching us since we were 8 years old and almost every single person in our class came when they were that young so we’ve all grown up together.

“It’s not like we have our swimming friends and our outside friends. We are each other’s friends. We’re hanging outside of the pool together. It’s not a bickering, arguing type of group. We all get along. It’s friendly competition.

“I’d never leave it until I was forced out. It’ll be sad but everyone’s time has to come.”

Sullivan has had a shorter summer swimming career.

“I had a friend who swam and Jenna (Stover), my coach, is my neighbor so after so many years they got me to do it,” she said. “I started before my freshman year so this was my fifth season. I was involved in the music program.”

She will continue her education at York College, where she will major in elementary and special education after finishing her final year of summer swimming.

“The season has been a lot of fun,” she said. “I like hanging with everyone. We’re a small group and we’re so close knit. All the little kids know all the big kids and have fun hanging out with them.

“For me, it isn’t about times. Maybe it is for other people. I know a lot of us are just here to be with each other and have a good time. Practices are so much fun. I’m really excited for the rest of the season. I can’t believe it’s my last season.”

The team participates in the BuxMont Swim League. The Gators recently hosted Fanny Chapman at Menlo Pool and although they lost, 304-162, there were smiles everywhere.

Head coach Chris Bashaar isn’t concerned with the final score.

“The big thing is self-improvement,” he said. “These kids come here every morning and they work their tails off and they come to a meet and they drop times. There’s no feeling in the world like having one of these kids walk up to you beaming because they dropped two seconds off their time. That’s nice for me but the whole goal is that they embrace that feeling of putting forth hard work and reaping the benefits of that.

“Yes, I want them to love swimming and I want them to want to be here. I feel like at this point we’ve built a strong swimming community, which is awesome. I like to see the whole picture. I’d like to see them take what they learn here and use it for the rest of their lives.”


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