Strong senior leadership is a trait of the Thomas Jefferson swimming and diving team.
On the girls’ side, seniors Elena Savikas, Grace Pletz and Maura Gdovic were WPIAL Class AA qualifiers a year ago as were junior Breanna Smith and sophomore Hallie Findlan.
“The six (senior) girls and two (senior) boys all contribute a high level of drive and maturity to our program,” TJ coach John Penn said. “They are leaders in our swimming program, and many other sports and activities at Thomas Jefferson.
“The drive to succeed is a common bond they all have.”
The TJ girls squad also consists of seniors Carissa Budday, Daisy Halliday and Raelin Krueger, juniors Miranda Stanley and Nieyali Rodriguez and sophomores Mia Olsen, Soliana Porter, Sierra Randolph and Isabelle Yancura.
Freshmen include Riley Baker, Liliana Cooke, Madison Keck, Faith Krueger, Haley Maizer, Sadie Marlow, Audra Morgan, Emma Organist and Rylee Pristas.
Prior to this week’s action, the TJ girls were 9-3 overall and 6-0 in Section 5-AA, splashing past Belle Vernon, Steel Valley, Uniontown, Ringgold, McKeesport and South Park.
The Jaguars lost a 98-82 decision to Elizabeth Forward on Feb. 12 in their final section meet of the season.
Savikas is a third-year captain for the girls team. It is rare for a high school athlete to earn a captaincy role as a sophomore, junior and senior.
Savikas has two favorite events: the 200- and 500-yard freestyle. She plans to study kinesiology and nutrition in college.
“During my sophomore year, I was a little more timid of a leader because it was only my second year on the team,” Savikas said. “Over the past two years, I feel I have really taken to my position and become a leader. I wanted to make sure I did that this year because I knew we had the potential to be a great team.”
Savikas has qualified for this year’s WPIAL meet in the 200 freestyle and in three relay events. Findlan has qualified for WPIALs in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle and three relay events.
Findlan ranked second in Class AA on the WPIAL performance list for both the girls 50 free and 100 free. She logged season-best times of 24.88 in the 50 free and 54.32 in the 100 free against Class AAA South Fayette in a dual meet last month.