Story first appeared in the March 19, 2015 edition of the Edinboro University Spectator.
Disney World claims to be the place where dreams come true. For Staci Schrecongost, last week, the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, Indiana was the site where her dream became a reality.
The senior member of Edinboro’s women’s swim team competed in the 100, 200 and 500-yard freestyle events at the Division II National Swimming and Diving Championships where she finished seventh in the 200-yard freestyle and earned All-American status, something she thought could only be imagined.
“My dream goal was to say I qualified and be an All-American,” Schrecongost said. “I went in with an open mind. I’ve never swam a race so care-free before, but I was like, ‘This is it. What do I have to lose?’”
The New Kensington, Pennsylvania native didn’t lose much at the championships. She was the 12th seed in the 200-yard freestyle and took home seventh, posting a time of 1:49.85, breaking her own school record.
Schrecongost noted that the support from near and far helped her to the top-ten finish.
“Even though my family was there, I didn’t have the support of my team physically there, but so many people were texting me and telling me that they were watching it live or were saying, ‘We’re right there with you.’ Last year Holly Stein made nationals and she texted me and gave me a pump-up text.”
Also, Schrecongost finished 15th in the 500-yard freestyle. Her time of 4:58.69, broke her own school record in the event and earned her honorable mention All-American status.
The health promotion major said she was surprised she made it to the finals in the event, let alone finish 15th.
“I was not expecting to come back in the finals for the 500,” she said. “My goal was to again be under the five-minute mark in prelims and I did that. Coming back, I just said, ‘Give it your all, this is the last time you’ll be swimming 20 laps in the pool.’ I got a 4:58 and I was shocked. It was amazing.”
She finished her first trip to nationals on Saturday by finishing 22nd out of 57 in the 100-yard freestyle, with a time of 51.37. She was the 25th seed heading into the event.
The conclusion of nationals, brings the 2014-15 season to an end. It was a season that saw a younger women’s team than recent history, a bigger men’s team than previous seasons and a few Boro PSAC champions in Schrecongost and Tony Romanini of the men’s team.
This year was also the last for Schrecongost, Romanini, as well as Mackenzie Wargo and Brian Wilson.
For Schrecongost, it was a tremendous season and an enjoyable career.
“I can’t even put [into words] how much fun I’ve had; memories I’ve made just with coach last week at nationals,” she said. “The recent graduates sent me flowers to the hotel at nationals. I’ve never cried because swimming is done, but for them to send me that gift to show that I’ve made an impact on them and vice versa was really touching…Yes, I’ll walk away with an All-American title, but the relationships I’ve established since I’ve been here is ultimately what has gotten me to where I am today.”