HEISER: York YMCA swim team continues tradition of excellence at national meet

  • The York YMCA competitive swim team finished third at the YMCA Long Course National Championships.
  • The York YMCA girls' team finished fifth and the boys' team finished sixth.
  • Felton's Jessie McMurray won the 50 breaststroke and 100 breast at the YMCA national meet.

Sometimes, it can become easy to overlook consistent excellence in your own backyard.

Jessie McMurray

Teams that produce outstanding performances with persistent regularity can often become victims of their own success.

Standout achievements that should be celebrated can get overlooked because it’s just more of the same ho-hum stuff.

That’s certainly not fair — to the athletes or the teams.

That’s why the latest accomplishments by the York YMCA competitive swimming team is more than worthy of a little recognition.

The York club finished third overall as a team at last week’s YMCA Long Course National Championships at the University of Maryland. That included a fifth-place finish in the girls’ division and sixth-place finish in the boys’ competition.

That continued a tradition of distinction for the local program.

There were national YMCA titles by the York team in 2016 and 2017, and the program has consistently finished in the top three at the national meet for the last seven or eight years.

John Nelson

Over the years, the club has produced a passel of NCAA Division I swimmers, including one (Spring Grove High School graduate Hali Flickinger) who made the 2016 Olympics.

Given the performances last week in Maryland, it appears that the York club has some more young swimmers ready to fuel the team’s pipeline into the nation's top collegiate programs.

McMurray wins two titles: Jessie McMurray, a soon-to-be 17-year-old from Felton, brought home two YMCA national championships, winning the 50 breaststroke and 100 breast.

Her time in the 50 breast (32.49 seconds) broke the national meet record and dropped nearly seven-tenths of a second from her seeded time. Her time in the 100 breast (1:11.67) dropped 1.83 seconds from her seeded time.

McMurray, who will be a junior at York Catholic this fall, also added a 10th-place finish in the 200 breast.

“This was a breakthrough for Jessie, for certain,” York YMCA head coach John Nelson said. “It’s the best performance she ever had.”

For McMurray, the victories served as validation that she is on the right path to her eventual goal — earning a D-I scholarship.

“(It) shows me that the hard work my team and I do all season has really paid off,” she said. “It’s really motivating and fulfilling to see what we have been doing every single day is worthwhile.”

McMurray was the only York swimmer to earn a first-place individual finish, but she was far from the team’s only contributor.

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Meaghan Harnish shines: West York’s Meaghan Harnish, 14, had four top-eight finishes (third in the 200 breast, fourth in the 400 individual medley, fourth in the 200 IM and eighth in the 100 breast).

Meaghan is the younger sister of former West York High School standout Courtney Harnish, who is now excelling at the University of Georgia.

“Meaghan had a very strong short-course season through the winter,” Nelson said. “That laid the foundation. She had never placed in the top 10 of any national meet. To place in the top eight in four events is a sign of how strong she’s gotten. She was 53rd in the 400 IM last year, and she went up to fourth this year. That’s a pretty big shift.”

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Other York standouts: The top performers on the boys’ side for the York club were Alex Sun and Logan McFadden, who each had four top-10 finishes. Sun was third in the 200 backstroke, fourth in the 400 IM, fourth in the 200 IM and eighth in the 100 breast. McFadden was fifth in the 800 freestyle, sixth in the 1,500 free, eighth in the 400 free and 10th in the 200 free.

York  got other top-10 efforts from Madison Nalls (sixth in the 400 free and seventh in the 200 free), Brina Uhlin (sixth in the 200 butterfly) and Megan French (ninth in the 800 free).

The York relay teams also excelled, bringing home six top-10 finishes.

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Nelson proud of team effort: The fact that so many York swimmers performed so well pleased Nelson immensely.

In fact, he proudly pointed to the fact that 15 of the 24 York swimmers at the event contributed points to the team total.

“I really am impressed with the full team effort,” Nelson said. “It’s hard to have that many kids swim that well for an entire week.

“There’s a John Wooden quote I repeat to my kids: ‘Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.’ Their performances (over the years) speak to the character of these kids. … They’re a great group of kids.”

It’s certainly a group that’s worthy of a little recognition.

— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.