HEISER: Dallastown's Riley Thomas set to make waves at District 3 Class 3-A swim meet
- Dallastown's Riley Thomas has excelled in the pool this year for the Wildcats.
- Thomas will compete in the District 3 Class 3-A Swimming Championships on Saturday.
- Thomas is seeded No. 1 in the 200 individual medley and No. 2 in the 100 breaststroke.
- Thomas' top foe in both events may be his York YMCA teammate, Logan Smith from Cedar Crest.
Two teammates, and two friends, will be rivals in the pool Saturday.
That’s when the District 3 Class 3-A Swimming Championships will be held at Cumberland Valley High School.
Two of the most high-profile athletes in that event just happen to be teammates on the powerhouse York YMCA club team.
On the high school level, however, senior Riley Thomas and junior Logan Smith compete for different programs.
Thomas has enjoyed a record-breaking season for the Dallastown Wildcats, while Smith is a standout for the Cedar Crest Falcons.
Saturday, all eyes will likely be on Thomas and Smith when the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke events are held. That’s because Thomas is seeded No. 1 in the IM at 1 minute, 54.84 seconds, while Smith No. 2 at 1:55.60.
That script will be flipped in the 100 breast, where Smith is seeded No. 1 at :56.06, while Thomas is No. 2 at :57.29. In that event, both swimmers have previously gone under the District 3 record time (:56.14) from 1994 — Smith did it last year at the state meet (:55.93), while Thomas did it at an August club meet (:55.83).
Thriving on the high school level: Thomas has thrived in his return to high school swimming this year at Dallastown after spending the prior two years competing on the club level. He has broken six individual pool records and was part of two relay pool records during the scholastic regular season. He also broke the Dallastown team record, the York-Adams League record and swam the fastest-ever 100 breast out of York County, all despite not yet being properly rested and tapered.
Like what you're reading?:Not a subscriber? Click here for full access to The York Dispatch.
Put it all together and it sets the stage for a pretty captivating Saturday in the pool.
Just don’t expect the Thomas-Smith rivalry to create any bad blood between the two club teammates.
“Logan and I have a very good relationship, as all of us are like brothers and best friends in the pool,” Thomas said.
Thomas did say, however, that facing Smith will likely add motivation for both swimmers.
“I feel very good about my chances going into districts, but I'm certain he will be putting up some very solid times,” Thomas said about Smith. “Swimming against Logan definitely adds additional motivation and I'm sure it'll be a battle. I'm sure that me being there will be a motivator to him because both of us don't like to lose against each other.”
Enjoying the high school experience: In addition to swimming in the IM and breast events, Thomas also plans to swim on a pair of Dallastown relays. Being a part of a high school team is what drew Thomas back to scholastic competition. He also competed for Dallastown as a freshman, taking second in the District 3 3-A 100 breast and qualifying for the state meet.
“I decided to compete for Dallastown this year because I love the team and the more relaxed atmosphere,” Thomas said. “I loved the experience of high school swimming.”
In fact, Thomas said his biggest thrill Saturday would not come in individual competition.
“I would be most happy with having one of our relay teams making it to states,” he said.
Still, Thomas does have some lofty individual goals, too.
“I would like to win districts in both of my individuals and just go (do) a best time at states,” he said.
Returning to the Dallastown High program also returned Thomas to his swimming roots.
“I started swimming at the Dallastown Swim Club when I was 5, and it's pretty cool I'm having the opportunity to finish my senior year there,’ he said.
One drawback of competing on the scholastic level for Thomas is that he doesn’t get to compete in what he considers his best event — the 200 breast. That event is not offered on the high school level.
Dealing with COVID: Thomas has excelled this season despite the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he’s still managed to thrive, thanks to his rigorous two-a-day workouts, both before and after school.
“Training during COVID hasn't been too bad, honestly,” Thomas said. “The Y stayed open all summer and we only lost a couple of months of training last spring. The most difficult part is probably having to put the mask on the moment you get out of the pool when you're out of breath. You just suck your mask into your mouth.”
Looking ahead to college: Once his scholastic season ends, Thomas will focus on club competition and look ahead to his college career. He has committed to Indian River State College, a junior college in Fort Pierce on Florida’s eastern shore.
“I decided to go to IRSC because of their automotive technology and service management program, combined with their swimming program,” Thomas said. “When I started the recruiting process, I looked at D-I colleges, however the schools didn’t have automotive programs and I wanted to go for something I really love to do. I am going to be the first swimmer they ever had to be enrolled in the auto program. They have really fast swimmers there, and a lot of them will go to larger programs. They have won around 40 straight national championships. And the campus is 15 minutes from beach.”
Other top York-Adams 3-A competitors: Thomas is not the only York-Adams League swimmer expected to excel at Cumberland Valley on Saturday.
Spring Grove junior Daniel Gordon is the No. 1 seed in the 50 freestyle (:21.01) and No. 3 in the 100 free (:46.67). Gordon won the District 3 3-A 50 free title in 2020 and was second in the 100 free.
Like Thomas, Gordon has also enjoyed a record-breaking season. At last count, he’s broken 13 records of one sort or another this season.
In 3-A girls, Central York junior Camryn Leydig earned No. 2 seeds in the 100 butterfly (:56.29) and 100 backstroke (:57.46). Last year at districts, Leydig was second in the fly and third in the back.
Dallastown sophomore Zoe Schneider is the No. 3 seed in the 500 free (5:07.82). She was sixth in that event at last year’s district meet.
The 2-A district event: While the top District 3 performers in 3-A will compete at Cumberland Valley on Saturday, the district’s best 2-A swimmers will compete at Central York.
Susquehannock sophomore Jacob Wade is a threat to earn gold medals in the 100 free and 50 free. Wade is the No. 1 seed in the 100 free (:48.39) and the No. 2 seed in the 50 free (:21.72). Last year at districts, Wade was fourth in the 50 free and eighth in the 100 free.
Additionally, the York Suburban boys’ 200 free relay is seeded third at 1:35.02.
On the girls’ side in 2-A, Gettysburg junior Hannah Brainard is the No. 1 seed in both the 100 free (:52.62) and 200 free (1:55.21). Last year at districts, Brainard was second in the 200 free and fourth in the 100 free.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.