Last updated: March 01. 2014 11:07PM - 3103 Views
By Jay Monahan For The Times Leader

Ed Zawatski of Wyoming Valley West receives his medal after winning the 100 yard freestyle on Saturday at the CYC in Wilkes-Barre.
Ed Zawatski of Wyoming Valley West receives his medal after winning the 100 yard freestyle on Saturday at the CYC in Wilkes-Barre.
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WILKES-BARRE — Ed Zawatski finally broke the district record he’d been chasing for three years. And it didn’t matter if he couldn’t feel his legs any more.

Or if he set it by the slimmest of margins — a hundreth of a second.

The Wyoming Valley West junior broke the district record with a 46.55 second finish in the 100 free Saturday at the District 2/4 Class 3A Swimming Championships on Saturday at the Wyoming Valley CYC. He topped Delaware Valley grad Jamie Grennan’s 2008 record by less than a blink of an eye.

“Obviously, I wish I couldn’t gone faster but it’s a record,” Zawatski said. “And no matter whether I beat it by 20 seconds or I beat it by a hundredth of a second, it’s still mine.”

Delaware Valley took both the boys and girls championships. Wyoming Valley West finished third in boys with 243 points, and Hazleton Area came in a distant second with 288.

Zawatski claimed his sixth individual district title of his career and second of the weekend. He won the 50 free Friday but failed to match his seed time that would have also set a record.

“Huge weight is lifted off my shoulders from that event,” Zawatski said. “I’m glad I have it now because I know next year if I want to swim the 100 again, I can rebreak it if I want to.”

Zawatski coasted through the first 50 in 21.67 seconds. He caught the wake of another swimmer on his last turn that slowed him down in a race where perfection is key. Still, he finished 2.34 seconds ahead of Hazleton Area’s Troy Valkusky.

“Coming on 75 on my last flip turn, I took a really bad turn,” Zawatski said. “I don’t know what it was but a rush of water from one of the other swimmers hit me and I caught one of their waves on the turn. But I swam through it. I couldn’t feel my legs anymore but I kept going and going. When I finished the race and I saw my time, I was very pleased with it.”

On the last race of the night, he teamed up with Michael Yeninas for a come-from-behind victory in the 400 free relay. After Andrew Greenwald and Llyam McGlynn trailed Delaware Valley by roughly 2.5 seconds midway through, Yeninas made up 1.75 seconds on his first 100 and overtook Colin Naturale on his second lap. From there, Zawatski cruised to a 3:20.48 finish.

“I wasn’t happy with my individual times,” said Greenwald, who came in second in the 500 free. “But it’s just a second thought now. I’m really happy we could take six guys to states. I wouldn’t have wanted anything else.”

One race earlier, Yeninas joined Zawatski as Spartan individual gold medalists with 1:04.2 mark in the 100 breast. Only a hundreth of a second separating he and Delaware Valley’s Fox Wihlborg in seed times, Yeninas’ half-second lead through 50 yards was slowly being erased on the final stretch. Yeninas stayed strong and touch 15-hundreths of a second in front of Wihlborg.

“I didn’t see him,” Yeninas said. “Towards the end, I saw his splash out of the corner of my eye so I knew he had to be right near me. A lot came down to the finish.”

Hazleton Area captured the area’s lone girls gold of the night in the 400 free relay. Morgan O’Hara kept the Cougars within a second of Scranton’s Erin Kazmierciak after 100. Shelby Sanko was a full four seconds faster than the field, and the final two legs — Alex Podlesny and Felicia Grego — held on for a 3:46.28 finish.

“Oh my God,” O’Hara said. “It’s my first championship. The hard work meant everything. We knew we had a strong team relay team. We went out really fast and just held onto the lead after that.”

District winners automatically qualified for states. At-large qualifiers will be announced today on the PIAA website.

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