According to Cocalico swimming coach Kylie Turner, Zach Sherk walked onto the pool deck at Cumberland Valley calm and confident Saturday morning.
By the time the sophomore hit the water, it was a different story.
“It was really just a blur for me, that race; I don’t know why,” Sherk admitted of the 100 breaststroke. “I saw (James Buchanan’s Nick Garbinski in the lane) next to me and I was like, ‘I’ve got to go again.’ Just pushing myself is really how I attack. I mean, I’m in my own state of mind when I’m doing breaststroke.”
Sherk’s “attack” worked as he swam to gold in the event at the District Three Class 2A swimming championships, earning the highest of Lancaster County’s 13 medals on the final day of competition.
Donegal’s Tyler Wilkinson added a bronze in the 100 backstroke, while fellow Indians Jenna Park and Jordynn Park claimed silver in the 100 freestyle and 100 breaststroke, respectively, in the afternoon heats.
Sherk showed why he held the top seed in the event, leading for most of the way until Garbinski started to close in on the final 50 yards. Seeing the senior on his left, Sherk powered into the wall and got an extra push off it to win by 0.40 seconds and best the time he set at the league meet with a 58.02 finish.
“I put on the burners again,” Sherk said with a laugh. “Coming down my first two laps, I realized I wasn’t finishing my kick. I fixed it, and it probably helped.”
The victory highlighted a big day for the Cocalico boys, who were in the lead for the team trophy until Bishop McDevitt finished second in the 400 freestyle relay and overtook the Eagles with 231 points.
Cocalico’s 225 points earned the squad its second consecutive second-place finish.
“You come into this and don’t really know how well the other swimmers are going to do and sometimes you don’t know how well your training – hopefully you’ve prepared your swimmers for the meet,” admitted Turner. “For us to come out with a second in the (2A) districts, that’s just awesome. The boys were aiming for gold, but they feel that they’ve succeeded for sure.”
The Cocalico boys will be sending a slew of swimmers to the State AA Meet set for March 14-17 at Bucknell University.
In addition to Sherk in the 100 breast and the two District silver medal winning relays, White qualified individually in the 100 free and 200 free while Higinbotham advanced in the 50 free and is also an alternate in the 100 fly.