Dallastown's swimmers recently rediscovered the sun.
The boys and girls on the Wildcats' team have spent most of the winter traveling to morning practice and home from afternoon practice in the dark.
Howley cut out the morning practice and shortened the afternoon practice when the swimmers began tapering for the championship meets -- York-Adams, District 3 and PIAA.
"We cut out morning practices, we cut out our cross-fit, dry-land work, and we cut yardage," Howley said. "That's worked well for us, and the kids have responded to it. The first thing I remember hearing is, 'my God, coach, there is a sun.'"
Howley feels that all the laps and dry-land work the swimmers do during the regular season allows him to ratchet down the preparation work going into the big three, season-ending meets.
"When we hit this part of the season, if the hay isn't already in the barn, it's too late," he said. "You can't expect to go out now and swim an incredible number of yards and think you're going to be ready for the championship meets. You have to be doing the work all season, and the kids have done it."
Dallastown's guys delivered an outstanding performance at the York-Adams Meet, winning 10 of 11 events, including all three relays. The Wildcats' girls earned four first-place finishes.
Next up is the District 3 Meet on Friday and Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School. Dallastown's teams are entered in Class AAA.
"We're going to be going against great competition, which brings out the best in us," Howley said. "The top three finishers (in each event) advance to states."
Howley said there's more pressure at the district meet than the state meet because you can't get to states without a quality performance at districts.
"You could have the best time in the state, let's say in the 50 freestyle, entering the district meet, but if you have a bad start or a bad turn, then you're not going to states," Howley said.
Hine looks strong: Dallastown's Trevor Hine will enter the district competition with the best times in the 200-yard individual medley and 500-yard freestyle. The junior won both events at the York-Adams Meet, setting a pool, meet and league record in the IM with a 1 minute, 55.38-second performance.
Hine finished second at districts in the same two events last year.
"I want to try and win both of them this year," he said. "I'm aiming to go under 4:40 in the 500 and under 1:55 in the IM," he said.
Hine is among a group of 25 Dallastown swimmers (14 guys and 11 girls) who qualified for districts.
"It's nice that we're going to have that many people going," he said. "It will be exciting to see how much people are going to drop (their times)."
Hine and his teammates are enjoying the opportunity to sleep in a little longer each morning.
"Everyone loves tapering," he said.
Other local tops seeds: Hine is one of three swimmers from York-Adams schools who earned No 1-seeds in two district events.
West York freshman Taylor Hoover is seeded first in the Girls' AA 200 IM and 500 free, and Delone Catholic senior Victoria Griffin holds the fastest qualifying times in the Girls' AA 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle.
The other top-seeded York-Adams swimmers are: Niki Price, Northeastern, Girls' AAA 100 butterfly; Erin Merkle, York Suburban, Girls' AA 100 butterfly; York Suburban Girls' AA 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay; and York Suburban boys' AA 200 medley relay.
Hoover and Merkle are one-two in the Girls' AA 500 freestyle with times of 5:05.42 and 5:06.05, respectively.
-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin firstname.lastname@example.org.