Pocono Family YMCA Piranhas poised to make a big splash in state meet

From Pocono Record.com

By Wayne Witkowski

AR-160319505Eric Kupsky won three gold medals, two of them in meet record time, as 43 swimmers from the Pocono Family YMCA Piranhas, competed in a March 20s Pennsylvania YMCA championships meet at Penn State University. The team finished fifth, its best ever, from among 78 teams in the meet that hosted 1,400 swimmers.

Seven of those swimmers are headed to the National Short Course swim championships on April 4 to 6 at Greensborough, North Carolina.

Competing in the 10 and under age group, Kupsky swam to meet record times of 2:05.26 in the 200-ayrd freestyle and 2:05.63 in the backstroke. He also won the gold medal in the individual medley, a 200-yard event with 50-ayrd segments swimming the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle — in 1:07.82

The 42 swimmers was just one shy of the most Piranhas swimmers who have qualified for the state meet, based on times in the district meet. Five Piranhas drew top seeds. Both Pocono Family YMCA Piranhas girls and boys teams had unbeaten seasons in the six-team PennDel League that includes teams from Bloomsburg, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Schuykill and Hazleton, followed b y solid finishes in the Central District meet held recently in York, the girls finishing second there and the boys third.

It has the makings of another memorable season from when the Piranhas began in 1973, training and competing in the early years at the much smaller four-lane Y pool and then going to the bigger Zimbbar pool at East Stroudsburg University, that later was closed up.

More recently, the club has workouts at various school pools, including East Stroudsburg High Schools North and South, Pocono Mountain East and West and Stroudsburg Intermediate.

The club carries a typical 110 swimmers on the Piranhas, which requires a YMCA membership. Another 55 children participate in the Developmental program where Y membership is not required. The numbers are the norm of recent years.

They come from throughout Monroe County and into Pike County as far as Milford and Honesdale in Wayne County.

Piranhas swimmers fee range from $55 monthly up to $70 for top level swimmers. Developmental level swimmers pay $35 monthly, $5 less if they are YMCA members. Swimmers can be in the pool every weekday and the program runs year-round. The summer recreation swim team has been in place for at least 20 years.

“We service as many kids as possible and keep it at low cost,” said Wolbert, pointing out that families can get more information and register their children for the program at the websitePfyswim.org.

“We produce not just athletes but good citizens and students academically,” Wolbert said. “We don’t just coach them to be swimmers but all around good student-athletes.”

Two qualifiers for the National Short Course championships are Pleasant Valley seniors Mary Cerbne, who is going to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Kelsey Eastman, who has narrowed her choices to Wagner and West Chester. Ironically, their high school does not have a pool.

Another national qualifier in today’s state meet is East Stroudsburg High School South’s Emily Wolbert, a senior headed this fall to LaSalle University who was 24th in the nationals in the butterfly last year. She is coach Mike Wolbert’s daughter. She also was an All-American scholar for USA Swimming in 2015.

Lauren Feen, a freshman who finished second in the high school District 11 meet for Pocono Mountain East in the backstroke, competed in states and also qualified for nationals. All three have been competing in the nationals for at least the past three years.

Also from Pocono Mountain East heading to nationals from the Piranhas boys team are Tyler Dalton, who is headed to Manhattan College, and his twin brother, T.J. Zach Wolbert, the head coach’s son, rounds out the national qualifiers and a year ago as a freshman at East Stroudsburg High School South, was 15th in the nationals in the 100-yard butterfly.

Coach Wolbert proudly points out how many swimmers over the years in the Piranhas program went on to compete in college. Many have multiple siblings in the program, including Eric Kupsky of the Pocono Mountain District, the oldest of four siblings in the program.

Michele Kuna, who helps coach the program, had three children swim for the Piranhas.

“I’m extremely proud of the program,” Kuna said. “It shows hard work gets you a scholarship.”

“It’s the only sport where there’s no athletic advantage,” Wolbert said. “Nobody is physically designed to swim; we’re all at an even pace. I have some kids with no athletic ability in other sports but still get college scholarships in swimming.”

Swimmers in the past went on to colleges that included MIT, Arcadia Drexel, Wagner, American and LaSalle.