At the close of Sunday’s practice, Tunkhannock’s Dylan Mislevy got up on the diving board and hit the water with a not-so-graceful half-belly flop, half-cannonball.
That’s why Mislevy is a state qualifier in swimming, not diving.
But the jovial atmosphere around the pool keeps Mislevy and his Tiger teammates loose, which leads to better performances once the real races start.
“We’re just trying to make it fun,” Mislevy said. “That’s the only way you’re going to go faster and enjoy this sport is if you make it fun. If you’re too stressed, you’re not going to as well as you hope. If you set yourself too high and you don’t reach it, you’re letting yourself down. But if you’re just really light, no stress, you’re going to go fast.”
There’s been a lot of fun and fast times for the Tigers as they get set for the PIAA Class 2A Swimming Championships, which start Wednesday at Bucknell University.
Mislevy, Dyllan Henning, Davis Tidball, Julien Madus and AJ Hodge are part of state-qualifying 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams, the latter of which won the District 2 championship. Tidball also qualified individually in the 50 and 100 freestyle.
“I’m not really nervous, I’m more just amped to go,” Tidball said. “I think we’re all pretty excited — excited to race, race fast and hopefully PR in our events.”
He agreed the relaxed, family atmosphere around the pool makes the whole experience more enjoyable.
“It’s definitely a lot more relaxed, but we’re just like brothers,” Tidball said. “We like to have fun together and practice is fun. It helps out a lot. It makes practice something you want to go to.”
“We just have a bunch of fun throughout the whole year,” Madus added. “We all connect. We’re all pretty much a big family, our whole team. You go through four years with the kids in your class. You see your team more than you see a lot of different people you know.”
The Tunkhannock family has been having fun, but still putting in the work to keep lowering its times and perform as well as it can at states.
“Our team is really doing a good job of perfecting our times,” Hodge said. “We’re practicing going fast, and we’re going to feel fast once we get to states. So we can set some records and, hopefully, come home with a medal.”
In the days leading up to the event, mastering the little things will make the most difference in taking precious seconds off times.
“I think we’re all going to do pretty good at states,” Madus said. “We’re pretty much just fine-tuning everything at this point. Working on our flip turns, working our starts and working getting to each wall as fast as we possibly can.”
With just five people left in the pool, a calmness exists during preparations. But Henning is ready to get in front of the big crowd at Bucknell and feed off the energy.
“Right now it’s pretty calm. Just practice, get through our daily routines. Keep working hard, keep our arm speed up,” Henning said. “But once we get down there, once you get in that huge atmosphere with all those teams there, a bunch of fast people there, it’s nice, it gets you going. Makes you excited.”
While the medal stand is the ultimate goal for every state qualifier, the Tunkhannock boys also have a piece of unfinished business. While their 200 freestyle relay team won the district championship, the 200 medley team was beaten out by Scranton Prep by a half second.
“With PIAA taking 32 teams this year, we knew we’d get in with our time. It would’ve been nice to get a second gold medal down at districts, but we ended up making it on our time,” Mislevy said. “The team that beat us is going down there with us. So, hopefully, we can edge them out down there.”
Henning said if everything comes together right, it should be a goal the team can accomplish.
“If we put all our times together, what we should’ve done, we were faster in the past,” he said. “We have been faster. Some of us didn’t PR in that event. Hopefully we go down there, we pull in our best times, we put it together, we’ll beat them.”