Will Retsch ends his swimming career at Hampton with a record flourish

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Saturday, April 2, 2022 | 11:01


Hampton swimmer Will Retsch is proof that water is the universal solvent.

When he is near, the records disappear.

Retsch will graduate with his name etched into the WPIAL record books and the entire Talbots’ all-time standings.

On his way to bringing home the school’s first PIAA swimming title since 2007, Retsch set a WPIAL championship record in the 200 singles medley and then, two weeks later, broke one of the oldest records. of Hampton in the same event to win gold in states

“Everything went according to plan, which was amazing,” Hampton’s trainer Morgan Zweygardt said. “He just did everything so perfectly.”

Gold in the 200 MI at the PIAA Class 2A Finals on March 18 in Bucknell highlighted one of the most successful seasons by a Hampton swimmer in program history. Retsch hit the wall, after setting a personal best of his own in 50-yard splits in butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, in 1 minute, 50.59 seconds. He dominated the race, finishing nearly two seconds ahead of runner-up Braelen Mowe of Boiling Springs (1:52.50).

“It was definitely a surprise,” Retsch said. “While swimming, I had a general idea that I had an advantage, but I had no idea that it was that much.”

Retsch set school records in the 100 butterfly, an event he didn’t focus on until this season, and the 100 breaststroke early in his senior year. But when he looked at the clock in the 200 IM at the PIAA finals, he knew he had surpassed a school mark that “had been a distant dream of mine for my entire high school career.”

The time of 1:51.50 set by former Talbots great Matt Harrigan has stood untouched since 1997 on the pool record board. Year after year, the Hampton swimmers put in their best shot and were always denied.

Until Retsch came along.

“It was amazing to be able to break that,” said Retsch, who became the first Talbot to win a PIAA title since Mike Seiferth won 100 flyweights in 2007. “I knew that was what I wanted to do, but I also knew there was a chance. very real that it didn’t happen.”

Retsch made a lot of things happen in his last season in high school. He defended his WPIAL Class 2A title in the 200 IM in early March with a time of 1:51.81, breaking the record set by Brett Murphy of Shady Side Academy (1:53.92) in 2003. Retsch also won the WPIAL title in the 100 flies, breaking Seiferth’s school record along the way, and was part of the gold medal-winning 200 medley relay as the Talbots defended their WPIAL team championship.

Retsch also took home a silver medal from the PIAA Finals in the 100 butterfly, tying Mowe for second place.

“It was a phenomenal season,” said Retsch, who competed March 25-27 at the USA Swimming Speedo Sectionals in Christiansburg, Virginia. “It couldn’t have gone better. We had great swims at WPIALs. We met all our goals.”

Other Talbots also did well at the PIAA meeting. Junior Ben Sheets placed fourth in the 100 back (51.77) and sixth in the 200 IM (1:54.64), and the 200 medley relay team of Sheets, Zach Sutterlin, Retsch and Dan Bratu placed third. The Talbots settled for sixth place in the team standings after the 400-meter freestyle relay team was disqualified when host Sheets left early in their start. First-year diver Pax Carslaw was ranked 16th in the PIAAs.

Sheets, the WPIAL runner-up in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke, will be the top returning swimmer in Talbots’ WPIAL three-peat bid. Other expected returns include sophomores Sutterlin, Bratu, and Vitaliy Pikalo, and freshman Christopher Belch.

The graduating seniors are Resch, Michael Belch, Davis Gindelsperger, and Ethan Oh.

The girls team will graduate Belle Donato, Danielle Sutterlin and diver Annelise Craig, while juniors Teresa Grimm, Rita Khoury and Emma An and diver Kayla Berkebile will return for their descent based on WPIAL Class 2A enrollment.

“They are very excited to be going down to Class 2A,” Zweygardt said. “I think we will see a lot of success in Class 2A for the girls.”

Without a doubt, Retsch’s performance in the PIAA finals was an eye-opener for college recruiters.

“It’s gone up a little bit after the states,” he said, “and I would expect to see a little bit of an increase after my times.”

Retsch is considering Lehigh, Bucknell and Gannon. He was scheduled to visit Lehigh on March 28. Bigger DI programs may call him, but he wants to major in environmental engineering and said academics “is the first thing I look for.”

“He’s always been very good,” Zweygardt said, “but when you’re a 1:50 2/5 IMer, that brings you to a different level of people who would be interested in you.”

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