Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama Team Enjoys First Year in Wpial

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama Team Enjoys First Year in Wpial

Article excerpt

The Obama Academy swimming team has a new head coach, a new pool and is competing for its first season in the WPIAL.

Still, the Eagles are rising to the top, despite the whirlpool of change.

Take senior Annie Windam. She took the starting block for Obama in the 500-yard freestyle race at last Thursday's Section 6-AA meet at Carlynton. The 500 was not Windam's usual race; she normally prefers the butterfly. But coach Mark Rauterkus requires Obama's swimmers to compete in each event during a given season, and it was Windam's turn to do the 500.

So Windam dived in next to Carlynton's Madison Gallagher and began the 20 laps. Gallagher and Windam were tied for the lead for 16 laps. Windam was edging Gallagher, who was only half of a body length behind.

"Then Annie sort of 'exploded,'" Rauterkus recalled.

Gallagher fell back as Windam made her move, and the separation became greater over the last few laps. Windam touched with a time of 6:45.09 for the win.

"To see her do well was nice," Rauterkus said. "She's a good leader, a good captain, consistent at practice -- it was nice to see that pay off."

The meet at Carlynton had been small, and enough lanes were available that the boys and girls could swim events simultaneously, which led to a bit of a humorous give and take. As the boys' 200- yard freestyle race was commencing alongside the girls, Windam actually passed Demetri Lardas. Lardas had been two seconds ahead of Windam, and Rauterkus joked with Lardas that he was trying to "demoralize" her.

"Well, she demoralized me," was Lardas' response.

The Obama girls' team ended up defeating Carlynton, 93-70, and the boys' team won, 87-51.

The Obama boys' team actually swept the 50-yard freestyle event. Tommy Brewton took first with a time of 25.31 seconds, followed by Jonah Raether in 25.34. Ben Friedman touched third in 25. …

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