By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
Thursday's girls swimming and diving meet at the Lynch Literacy Academy in the city of Amsterdam showcased two programs at very different stages.
The club from Fonda-Johnstown was fine-tuning its skills, as some competitors tried out different strokes so head coach Julianna Popp could take a look at different lineups, while diver Meghan Bartlett turned in a best-in-the-state effort.
Meanwhile, the Lady Rams from Amsterdam? They're still simply tuning.
The more experienced F-J squad lapped Amsterdam on the scoreboard, 108-59, but the final tally hardly mattered after Thursday's meeting between the teams. Instead, the focus of both coaches was on how their squads used the day to get a step closer to where they want to be at season's end.
For Amsterdam, fresh off its first win of the season earlier this week, Thursday was viewed as a success by head coach Nancy Spagnola because her young squad gained another day's worth of experience.
"I'm really proud of the fact that, whether or not the score reflects that we're doing better, we are doing better," said Spagnola. "That's what we're focusing on."
While no Lady Rams swimmer earned a first-place finish during the matchup, several Amsterdam athletes turned in personal-best performances. Spagnola singled out Cloe Reynicke's time of one minute, 31.89 seconds in the 100-meter butterfly -- "She keeps coming down with her times every week," Spagnola says -- as a sign of the Lady Rams' progress, and that Mianna Conti's time of one minute, 11.86 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle has her very close to qualifying for sectionals in the event.
"I was really, really happy with Mianna," said Spagnola. "She's been trying really hard to get to sectionals every year and, now, she's only 0.86 seconds away from the time. That's exciting."
"[Spagnola] said we'll work on it again and again, so that maybe by next Tuesday, our next meet, I'll be up to speed," said Conti. "We're trying really hard."
While Amsterdam is trying its best to turn its potential -- several team members are not even in ninth grade -- into a proven commodity, F-J's already got that in Bartlett. A season ago, Bartlett made it to the state meet for her diving and the senior seemed poised Thursday to get back to that stage -- and maybe even do some real damage. Bartlett's six-dive total score Thursday of 298.43 was the highest-known accumulation in the state this season.
The score was so high that when Bartlett first heard it from the judges, she assumed there had to be an error in the calculation of her score. When she found out the score was accurate, her face could barely contain her wide grin.
"I was just really excited," said Bartlett. "I haven't broken 300 since maybe three years ago, and I got really close this time."
"Her score, 298.43, that's a school record for us," said Popp. "She did phenomenal."
"I've been playing with my positions and I've gotten it down so I can get really strong scores now," said Bartlett. "That's pretty much my goal -- just to keep getting better going forward."
Bartlett was the main highlight in a meet full of them for F-J, as several team members turned in multiple individual first-place finishes. Besides Bartlett, who also won the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 27.66 seconds, Erica Askew won both the 100-meter breaststroke and the 200-meter freestyle events.
"This was a great meet for us," Popp said.