The VASJ swimming team isn’t big in numbers, but the Vikings certainly aren’t short on talent or effort.
VASJ swim coach Bryan Scheider – in his third year with the Vikings – and assistant coach Amy Bush, who is also in her third year at VASJ also coach the NDCL swimmers and the Lions and Vikings practice together.
Scheider said the three swimmers on this year’s team – Rachel O’Connell, Jillian DiDona and Anika Duhigg – have enjoyed success and have shown tremendous progression this season and will compete in the Division II sectional at SPIRE Institute on Feb. 9.
This is the third version of a swim team at VASJ – the first was a group (led by the Taraska family) in the mid 90s, the second a single girl swimmer in 2012, and this current version was started by O’Connell and Anna Radachy. The girls approached Scheider in the summer of 2015 and asked about starting a team at VASJ when they got there as freshman that fall. Former AD Nate Zavorek supported the idea and the team was reborn.
The first year was just the two girls, the second year was six swimmers (4 girls and 2 boys) and this year there are three swimmers, all girls – Rachel O’Connell (11), Jillian DiDona (10), and Anika Duhigg (9).
This season the girls participated in 10 invitational meets (with more than 10 teams each) and two dual meets – they beat Euclid and lost to Wickliffe. Last year, O’Connell was 31st in the 200 freestyle at the sectional tournament (top 30 makes it to the next round). Both DiDona and O’Connell have already achieved faster times than last year, and Duhigg is looking at qualifying for districts.
Duhigg is as fast as the swimmers on the original VASJ team from the 90s, who had a girl swim at Cleveland State.
Scheider swam at CSU with Veronica Teraska.
Duhigg took second place in the 100 freestyle in the NCL championship meet and 50th in the 50 freestyle.