The stress that Carson Gross felt at times last year will be gone when she steps onto the starting block at this year's District 3 swimming championships.
The York Suburban senior plans to enjoy every minute of her final district meet which is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School..
"I'm just trying to have fun this year," Gross said following practice on Monday evening. "Last year, I got upset when I didn't do what I wanted to do."
Maybe so, but Gross still accomplished an awful lot in last year's Class AA district event.
She delivered some terrific performances winning the gold medal in the 200-yard freestyle and the silver medal in the 500 freestyle. Gross, who will swim in college at Division I Duquesne, was also part of the winning 400 freestyle relay quartet and played a key role in the Trojans' capturing the Class AA team title.
This year, she's seeded second in the 100 freestyle and 200 freestyle. Eastern's Madison Nalls holds the top seed in the 200 free, and Northern's Becca Luft is listed first in the 100 free.
Dallastown's Kacey Oberlander is the only female swimmer from a York-Adams school seeded first in two events. She's holds the best times in the the Class AAA 200 IM and 100 backstroke.
"There's a little bit of pressure," Gross said when asked about her bid to repeat in the 200 freestyle.
"The nice thing is I know the girls who are in there, and they were my competition last year. It's a friendly competition, and they deserve it just as much as I do."
Gross' goals are to better her 2015 time in the 200 (1:50.39) and go under 52 seconds in the 100.
Of course, the Trojans, who are seeded first in the 200 freestyle relay, will also bid for another district team crown in a highly competitive field.
"I feel there are six teams that legitimately have a chance to win the title," York Suburban head coach Craig Brennan said. "They are, in no particular order, Northern, Schuylkill Valley, Trinity, Twin Valley, West York and York Suburban. The meet is going to be fantastic."
Speaking of West York, the Bulldogs have more than their share of talented swimmers who can make school history by grabbing the team championship..
They were co-champions, with York Suburban, in York-Adams Division II this year after the dual meet between the teams ended in a 47-47 tie.
West York's Taylor Hoover is the No. 2-seeded swimmer in the 200 IM, and teammate Maelyn Elder holds the same seed in the 100 butterfly.
The Bulldogs' Meghan French is seeded third in the 500 freestyle and Claudia Keller and Elder are fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100 backstroke.
Oh yes, West York also holds a second seed in the 400 freestyle relay and a third seed in the 200 medley relay.
Eastern's Nalls is listed second in the 500 freestyle, and Delone Catholic's Caroline Dudenhoeffer is the No. 2-seeded swimmer in the 100 breaststroke.
Meanwhile, Oberlander will go for two golds in her first district meet in two years.
Oberlander didn't swim with the the high school team last year. Instead, she competed with her club team. She'll be joining a Division I college program (University of Alabama) next year.
"It's my last year, and I'll never get the high school experience again, and I didn't want to miss out," Oberlander said when asked why she resumed high school swimming this year. "I'm so happy that I came out. I'm having a ball."
As a sophomore with the Wildcats, Oberlander earned a bronze medal in the 100 backstroke at the state meet.
This weekend, she'll go for twin golds at districts.
"I'm excited," she said. "I'm trying to finish strong. I have the rest of the high school season plus my summer season (before college)."
Oberlander will compete in the IM on Friday and the backstroke on Saturday.
"I played around with the 500 (freestyle) all season, but it's just unfortunate that the 500 and backstroke are on the same day (at districts and states). So, I picked the IM (to go with the backstroke)."
Oberlander won the bronze in the state 100 backstroke two years ago.
"It's definitely a goal to move up, but the most important thing is to have fun this year."
Gross and Oberlander. Two talented swimmers looking to have fun while adding to their medal collection and team totals.
— You can reach Dick VanOlinda at email@example.com