Samuel Schirra (pronounced Sheer – uh), a junior, qualified for the WPIAL AA Swimming Championships in the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly. This is Sam's third year qualifying for the championships as an independent swimmer for Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh.
The 2018-19 season was particularly challenging, though, as Sam was out of the pool for almost five months. Sam suffered a fractured tibial plateau while running cross country in the fall. Plus, he had a lead role in the school play, “Pride and Prejudice.” Both kept him from daily swim practices with the Butler Y Barracudas until mid-December.
As an independent swimmer, Sam practices with his Butler Y swim team under Coach Corrie Jones and then swims to get a WPIAL qualifying time in an open lane at a Knoch High School swim meet, thanks to the generosity of the Knoch coaches.
He is working hard to get his times back to where they were last year and hopes to see good results at the championship meet.
Independent high school swimming runs in the family. Most recently, Sam’s brother Ian swam as an independent swimmer for Aquinas Academy, qualified for WPIALs all four years, medaled at WPIALs and went to PIAA State Championships twice, achieved All-State honorable mention, and currently swims for the Mount St. Mary’s University Division I men’s swim team.
Sam’s eldest brother, Jake, started the family tradition when he decided to try high school swimming his senior year, becoming the first independent swimmer for Aquinas Academy. Jake qualified and swam the 50 free at WPIAL championships in 2010, and Sam is looking to beat his eldest brother’s record of 23.58.
I tell everyone we meet, come to Westminster ready to work hard, be a good teammate, get good grades, don't get in trouble, and have fun, and you will be successful. All of those things don't take talent.
Source: Chelsea Dawson, coach the Beaver Falls High School Swim Team.
Our school pool has been closed for about seven years now due to financial reasons. However, refusing to let our team fade away into the sunset, we found a new facility to practice at. Our team now practices everyday during the swim season at New Brighton's community pool.
We have one swimmer, Gabriella (Gabby) Minto, who has made it to WPIALs all four years of her high school career. She will be competing in the 50 yard Freestyle and the 100 yard Freestyle. She is an amazing athlete who has worked so hard for all of her accomplishments. Last year, she even made it to states in the 50 yard Freestyle.
I am always looking for ways to inspire my swimmers to never give up and always try their best. This season I searched for inspirational quotes to provide swimmers with before every meet. The quote I am using for Gabby for her first day at WPIALs on Thursday is from the Highland Hurricanes Swim Club's head coach, Nick Castillo. "Swim your Race! Think like a Bumble Bee and Race like a Race horse!" Bumble Bees think about what they are going to do and they are humble. They also fly when others don’t think they can. When it comes to race horses, swimmers train hard and come meet time, they race like them.
I am so proud to be a swim coach and am looking forward to having a great time at WPIALs at the end of this week.