It was a special evening for seven local high school swimmers at the York YMCA's Graham Aquatic Center on Tuesday.
Having spent endless hours competing at the highest level of the sport and against some of the best athletes in the nation, their dreams of advancing their careers into the college realm have come true. They have signed their National Letters of Intent.
Their accomplishments even got York YMCA coach Michael Brooks to smile.
“He is not a man that smiles very often,” Dallastown senior Kacey Oberlander said.
Oberlander, along with Carley Vaughn and Emily Ilgenfritz of Central York, Dylan North of Red Lion, Zachary Snyder of Cumberland Valley, Cami Cook of Cedar Cliff and Meghan Small of Manchester Valley (Maryland) made their post high-school intentions final in a pool-side signing.
For Oberlander and Ilgenfritz, it was a nice moment of recognition during their still outstanding careers. Oberlander signed with the University of Alabama, while Ilgenfritz made her commitment to Georgia Tech.
“I actually never really thought about this happening,” Oberlander said. “But this is just so exciting. I’m just so happy that everyone has found a place that they’ll fit in. It’s just awesome.”
Ilgenfritz was more excited to be able to do it alongside several of her peers.
“I’m super excited,” she said. “This is all of our hard work finally paying off. It’s also exciting to see myself and my best friends move on to better things in the sport, as well as to continue our academic careers.”
Weather is always a big draw for the swimmers who head south. Oberlander didn’t deny that was one of the many reasons she is looking forward to spending four years in Tuscaloosa.
“I didn’t want to go up north because of the weather,” she said. “Cold is not my thing.”
It didn’t take long for Oberlander to make her decision to attend the prestigious SEC university. The school contacted her shortly after schools were allowed to begin emailing prospective students.
“As soon as I went there it felt as if I was part of the family,” she said. “The coaches were just awesome.”
Ilgenfritz also remained in close contact with Georgia Tech during the early part of the recruitment process. Like Oberlander, her decision was made quickly during her official visit.
“I went on my official visit and I fell in love with (the campus),” she said.
Ilgenfritz, who plans to study biology or psychology, should be a great fit at the ACC university. She is pretty versatile, and it’s never a bad thing to be able to say that she was part of a record-breaking relay squad, to boot.
"One of my favorite moments in the sport was in the summer of 2013,” she said. “Courtney Harnish, Meghan Small, Nikki Price and I won the 800 free relay at Junior Nationals. We even set the national record. That was super huge.”
Oberlander, who plans to study business, can’t say she broke a national record. But what she can say is probably something just as rare ... making Brooks smile.
“When I qualified for the Olympic trials in the 200 back … that is one race that I’ll never forget,” she said. “I remember touching the wall and then looking over at Michael and he was smiling and he gave me the biggest hug ever.”
The other signees and their college selections are as follows: Vaughn (University of Mary Washington); North (West Chester); Snyder (Harvard University); Cook (University of Pittsburgh); and Small (University of Tennessee).
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.