Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Char Valley's Damich Targets Gold at Piaa Meet

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Char Valley's Damich Targets Gold at Piaa Meet

Article excerpt

The noise, the size and the speed all made for an eye-opening experience for Drew Damich at his first WPIAL swimming championships.

Competing on the Class AAA level three years ago, Damich, then a Chartiers Valley freshman, finished ninth and 10th in his signature distance freestyle events, the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races.

"It shocked me -- it was a much different meet than I expected it to be," Damich recalled. "I grew up swimming, doing meets for clubs and USA Swimming. I went into [the WPIAL championships] thinking it was going to be just another meet -- it was completely different.

"There are a lot of really fast kids, the whole atmosphere was amazing. It gets really loud in there compared to any other event. It was eye-opening."

Damich, who lives in the Presto section of Collier Township, has since spent his time at WPIAL meets opening eyes with his performances and a lot of that noise that has filled the University of Pittsburgh's Trees Pool the past two Februarys has been because of him.

After the 2012 season, Chartiers Valley moved down to Class AA. Not content with simply improving his WPIAL standing by now swimming Class AA, Damich set out to make drastic improvements on his times and set his sights for a gold medal.

"As soon as I heard we were Double-A, I knew I wanted that gold," Damich said. "I wanted it more than anybody. I had to convince myself to kill it every day in practice and to try to get there at the end of the year.

"It was a hard thing to do but I knew it was a possibility. I knew there were going to be people there to challenge me and try to stop me."

There certainly were challengers, but there was nobody who could stop Damich. At the WPIAL Class AA championships as a sophomore, Damich swept the gold medals in both distance freestyle events.

He improved off his WPIAL freshman times of 1:45.65 and 4:48.63 in the 200 and 500 freestyle, respectively, by swimming a 1:43.30 and 4:40.87 as a sophomore. …

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