Cougars trio thriving despite having no pool

Jan. 23—There are days when Lily Nemeth walks past the closed doors to the former Valley View natatorium and thinks about the memories she missed creating.

That area of the high school building is off-limits. It closed in 2016 due to costly structural issues the district could not afford to incur.

Not having a pool did not dampen Nemeth’s love of the sport she started at age 5.

She and teammates Della Noon and Molly Hubal stuck with the program. Despite the challenges of training at the YMCA in Carbondale and traveling to all away meets, the three Cougars take great pride in representing their school in the Lackawanna League, District 2, and the PIAA.

Once again this winter, Nemeth, Noon and Hubal are having outstanding seasons. They are all in pursuit of district medals and a return trip to Bucknell University and the PIAA Championships. But more than anything, they are enjoying every minute they spend in the water.

“I think about that all the time,” Nemeth said of seeing the closed pool every day. “It would have been so much easier to just jump in the pool after school instead of taking bus rides to and from the YMCA. It’s kind of sad walking by knowing that it’s not in use and that we couldn’t swim there.

“Still, I am very grateful that we have a swim team at Valley View and can still compete and represent our school.”

—-All three athletes started their swimming journeys with the Valley View Barra-Cougars Youth Swim organization and learned to swim at the now-shuttered high school pool. From there, they joined the Scranton Sea Knights and stayed true to the Valley View varsity program that coach Rick Evans has kept afloat.

“It’s definitely a struggle at times,” Hubal said. “It’s not ideal conditions because at the YMCA we don’t have blocks. Not having a pool also takes away from new kids from joining the sport. There have been ups and downs, but we have always persevered. It is great to have a program, and I appreciate coach Evans so much. I know he has a tight schedule and a growing family, and he always puts us first, and we take that to our hearts.”

This is the final round for Nemeth and Noon.

In her freshman year, Nemeth made an immediate impact by winning the 100-yard freestyle (54.21) and bronze in the 200 freestyle (2:01.99) at the Les Richards Championships. She added a silver in the 100 free at the District 2 Class 2A championships and earned All-Region honors.

She continued her success as a sophomore with a pair of medals at the district meet and another All-Region selection.

Last season, Nemeth came into her own and won two medals at the district meet and also qualified for the PIAA Championships in both the 100 free and 100 backstroke. Once again, she made the All-Region team.

As a senior, Nemeth continues to build her legacy. She is undefeated in her individual swims and has helped the Cougars to a 3-3 record.

“I would love to be able to go to districts and have the opportunity to go to states again this year,” Nemeth, 18, said. “That is the goal. It was such a great experience to be there with coach Evans and my friends competing at Bucknell.”

Noon has been a steady contributor to the Cougars’ success in the distance freestyle events.

As a junior, she finished just short of a district medal in the 200 free, clocking in with a 2:08.81. This season, Noon has elevated herself after a slow start by competing in the 200 individual medley and the freestyle events and is picking up momentum heading into the postseason.

“It’s been really exciting,” said Noon, who is hoping to continue her swimming career at Tufts. “I took the summer off from practicing, and the start of the season was a little slower than I wanted. It is nice that I have been dropping times now. I have been alternating my events in the meets and am starting to go IM and fly. Since it’s new territory, it’s been interesting, but I am getting up there with some of the top swimmers.”

It didn’t take long for Hubal to take the Lackawanna League by storm.

As a freshman, she won a bronze medal in the 100 free (55.18) and a fifth-place medal in the 50 free (25.72) at the District 2 Class 2A Championships. She joined Nemeth on the All-Region team.

The following year, Hubal won silver medals at the district meet in the 100 free and the 200 IM. She also made the B race at the PIAA Championships and placed 12th in the 100 free (53.88) and 15th in the 200 individual medley (2:13.17).

This season, like Nemeth, the junior is undefeated in her individual races and set a school record in the 100 fly with a time of 1:02.73 in the league opener against West Scranton.

“I definitely try to get in the pool every day,” Hubal, 16, said. “There are good days and bad days. Reaching my goals is what drives me to put in 110 percent every day.”

All three are intense competitors and are also close friends. They were part of the Cougars relay team, along with Nicole Chiricos, who graduated, that won an eighth-place medal at the PIAA Class 2A Championships last season.

This year, they have teamed with Lorelai Ancherani and Brooke Tylenda to continue their relay success.

“We take so much pride in our team,” Hubal said. “We are such a close-knit family. We had a lot of talented seniors graduate, but we have talented sophomores and freshmen. Everyone motivates each other. It is awesome to represent our school at all the meets.”


It hasn’t always been easy, but Nemeth, Noon, and Hubal have risen to conquer their obstacles.

Soon, both Nemeth and Noon will experience their Senior Night with their families. They can hold their heads high knowing that they proudly carried the banner of the program through their four years.

“It really has been a great experience,” said Nemeth, who will likely see the end of her swimming career as she is heading to Penn State University. “The bond we have as a team, because we are a small team and we don’t have a pool, is so strong. I met some of my best friends in this sport. It’s been great.

“I will never forget this.”

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9125; @sportsTT on Twitter

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *