Norwin sends five swimmers on to postseason


Norwin Boys and Girls Swimming

Members of the girls swimming team who attended the AAA WPIAL Championship pose with head coach Doug Watson. Left to right: Junior Joey Testa, sophomore Anna Little, seniors Jordan Kutchak, Elizabeth Smeltzer, and junior Victoria Heffelfinger.

     On March 7, five Norwin swimmers qualified for the AAA WPIAL championships held at Upper St. Clair High School.  This season, the number of swimmers able to attend WPIALs was greatly reduced as a COVID-19 precaution. Seniors Elizabeth Smeltzer, Jordan Kutchak, junior Joey Testa, and sophomore Anna Little competed for the girls. Sophomore Nathan Kostrobala represented the boys.

    The swimmers were led by sophomore Anna Little. Little, who swam the 200 yard IM and 100-yard Breast, placed in the top 10 in the WPIAL  in both races. She placed 9th in the 200 IM and 3rd in the 100 Breast. This was Little’s first year on the swimming team.

     “I am very pleased with how I swam this year,” said Little, “However, I would like to swim even better in the years to come.”

     On top of Little’s success, Kutchak swam well too. She swam in the 100 Freestyle, placing 4th in the WPIAL with a time of 53.02 seconds. She also competed in the 200 Freestyle, in which she placed 5th with a time of 1:56:02. This was Kutchak’s last year of her high school career. She will be swimming at Clarion University for the next four years.

     “As a senior, I was relieved to be in the top 16 that got to attend [WPIALs],”  said Kutchak, “My goal going into the championship was to make it onto the podium. I exceeded my expectations, placing in the top five for two events so I am very happy.”

     Aside from the individual races, the girls raced in the 400 Freestyle Relay. Their team consisted of Smeltzer, Testa, Little, and Kutchak. Smeltzer started the team off and Kutchak swam as the anchor. The Lady Knights finished with a time of 3:46.92, placing 11th.  

     Only one Norwin boy competed at WPIALs, sophomore Nathan Kostrobala.  Kostrobala placed 15th in the 100-yard Butterfly with a 53.88 time and 14th place in the 100-yard Backstroke with a new personal record of 55.08 seconds.

     “To prepare I made sure I worked hard the week of and made sure I ate properly,” said Kostrobala.  “The day of, I made sure to go in with a good mentality and did my best.”

     Despite a strong performance and heavy preparation, Kostrobala felt he could have done better.

     “Overall our team had some pretty good times,” said senior Nathan Kostrobala.  “I didn’t do as well as I hoped.”

     While the athletes may not be entirely proud of their performances, the coaching staff is there to pick them up.

     “For them to do as well as they did at a high school facility… it was such a unique and strange situation they were put in,” said assistant coach Laurie Federovich.  “But they performed, and we could not have been happier with the results.”

     The AAA championship is typically held at the University of Pittsburgh.  Due to COVID-19, changes needed to be made.

     “It’s definitely going to be something they remember,” said Federovich.  “We are used to going into Pitt and there are hundreds of kids. This year there were maybe 30 people tops on deck.”

     On top of a location change, the number of swimmers able to go was greatly reduced.

     “It was different because last year there were a lot more of us,” said Kostrobala.  “If you made the time then you got to go. This year you had to have the top 16 times.”

     With the season now over, the swimmers are looking forward to their next seasons, whether in college or high school.

     “I’m proud of my team and hope to be back next year with more of us,” said Kostrobala.

     Despite all the adversity, the Norwin swimmers came out successful after a season full of unforeseen challenges and changes.

     To see all the 2021 AAA WPIAL Swimming Championship results, click here.