Familiar Faces, New Challengers Emerge on Pennsylvania HS Swim Scene After December Invites

With the high school swimming season heating up in Pennsylvania, let’s check in with the new state leaders from last month’s invitationals.

Hatboro Horsham junior Annie Jia is looking to reclaim her state overall record in the 100-yard butterfly this season. The two-time defending PIAA 3A state champion set the standard in 2022 with a 52.04 before Leah Shackley went 51.93 at last year’s 2A meet.

This season, Jia sits atop the state rankings with a 54.91 from last month’s Cumberland Valley Eagles Invitational, and she ripped a huge lifetime best of 51.09 at last month’s Winter Junior Championships – East. The Cal commit is also ranked 2nd among Pennsylvania high schoolers in both the 50 free (23.33) and 100 free (50.94) this season.

Ranked 2nd behind Jia in the 100 fly is East Stroudsburg’s Ксения Лунюшина, an 18-year-old native of Moscow, Russia, who has dropped nearly two seconds in the event this season down to 56.09 during a Jan. 3 dual meet vs. Nazareth. Her new lifetime best would have placed 6th at States last year.

The girls’ 500 free is shaping up to be an exciting showdown at 3A States in March. Upper Dublin junior Arina Vorobyeva blasted a personal-best 4:56.21 at last month’s Girls Cardinal Classic, taking almost a second off her previous-best 4:57.01 from Winter Juniors earlier in December. She also clocked lifetime bests in the 50 free (24.42) and 200 free (1:50.27) during high school competitions last month. Last year, Vorobyeva placed 5th in the 500 free (4:57.49) and 6th in the 200 free (1:50.39) at 3A States.

Vorobyeva should be challenged for the distance free crown by Wissahickon junior Nora Weber. A newcomer to the Pennsylvania swimming scene from Oklahoma, the 16-year-old Auburn commit posted an impressive 500 free victory in 5:05.08 last week vs. Upper Dublin. Last month, Weber lowered her lifetime best to 4:54.47 at a meet in Texas. It took a time of 4:49.63 to win this event last year at 3A States (Madeline Faikish).

Mt. Lebanon junior Sylvia Roy is in a great position to defend her state title in the 100 backstroke. The Virginia commit has been almost two seconds faster than anyone else in Pennsylvania this season at 54.51. Roy has been as fast as 53.28 at 3A States last year, where she also earned a runner-up finish in the 50 free (22.93). Her season-best 50 free time of 23.47 is tied for third in the state this season with Molly Workman behind Jia (23.33) and Arden Keitel (23.32).

Jess Burns has also shown no signs of slowing down in the girls’ 100 breaststroke. The Duquesne commit lowered her personal best to 1:03.19 at the Cumberland Valley Eagles Invitational on Dec. 27 — faster than her 5th-place effort from last year’s 3A State Championships (1:03.84).

On the boys’ side, Notre Dame commit Shane Eckler is the favorite to defend his 50 free title with a season-best 20.27 leading off Ridley’s 200 free relay at last month’s Delco Invitational. Indiana commit Brandon Fleck fired off a state-leading 100 free time of 44.84 last month, but he does not compete in PIAA. Eckler ranks 3rd in the 100 free among Pennsylvania swimmers this season behind Fleck and Noah Powers (45.87) as well as 2nd in the 100 fly (48.76) behind Springfield senior Jacob Johnson (48.16).

At Winter Juniors last month, Johnson brought his best 100 fly time down to 46.36. Before this season, his best time was 47.51 from last March. He won last year’s state title in 47.58.

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Mark Rauterkus
3 months ago

Not a 200 back — but a 100 in the article above. Go Lebo!

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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