McClellands do well at PIAA Championships.

By: The Review | Towanda Daily Review | March 17, 2018


LEWISBURG — Bucknell's Kinney Natatorium can be intimidating at first glance. Add in the fact it was playing host to the PIAA Class AA Swimming and Diving Championships and the intimidation factor goes up that much more.

The first thing most swimmers will see after entering the building is the home court of the men's and women's basketball teams. The space is big enough to accommodate thousands of fans as well as a minimum of two basketball teams. It can be intimidating for any swimmer not accustomed to a meet of its size.

For Sayre's Joshua and Caleb McClelland, the moment was big, but it was also an experience worth gaining something from.

"It's very intimidating here," Caleb McClelland said. "There are swimmers from all over the state and that's a good experience, but it's also very hard to stay focused."

Caleb McClelland opened the day in the 200 free. Despite colder than anticipated water, McClelland performed well in the second heat of the prelims. He posted a 1:44.70 to finish 10th.

"Getting ready, I wasn't as confident as I was heading into the District meet," Caleb McClelland said. "I had no idea what the times were I was competing against here. I knew they were good."

McClelland swam against competitors from all over the state and held his own against a difficult Class AA field. Connor Empie of Central Columbia was the other representative from District 4.

With swimmers all over, and races going off almost every five minutes, focus can be difficult. The cold water in the main pool might have helped Caleb as he prepared for his first swim of the day.

"My first thought was well this is cold," Caleb said. "I tried to stay with the guy to my left, but he shot out quick at the beginning. I just tried to keep a relatively quick pace."

Despite cold water and swimmers hanging around the pool at all times, McClelland was able to post a solid prelim time to qualify for the first heat in the night round. Once there, McClelland did not disappoint, posting a 1:44.36 to place 10th in the state.

As Caleb was adjusting to life at the state level, his brother Joshua was making the same adjustments. Joshua, the sprinter in the family, qualified for the 50 free after he posted a time of 22.87 at the District meet.

Much like his brother, Joshua was going against a difficult field of swimmers as he opened the first heat of the event in the first lane.

"It's great because you have all these swimmers and good competition, but since we've never gone against them it's kind of new waters," Joshua said. "Especially for me since it's my first year being here. I'm not quite used to the pool. It's a little bit slower than my best, but I felt good doing it."

McClelland looked good doing it as well, nearly reaching his seed time. He finished 31st, but gained much needed experience throughout the process of getting ready and performing.

"When I went off the block I felt good," Joshua McClelland said. "Overall I felt really good. I like the amount of competition. It's good competition. You get to compete against swimmers who are way faster and you have to push yourself to keep up with them."

Regardless of the outcome, Joshua McClelland won the district and qualified for his first state meet as a junior. The experience gained, along with getting to support his brother throughout the process, can't be measured.

"This season has been pretty good," Joshua McClelland said. "I've helped push my brother in practice to help him break his records. It's a lot of fun that we are able to swim together."