By Steve Wilaj
For Canfield High swimmer Sarah Heaven and her teammates, relays and events aren’t won on the days of the meets.
Instead, it’s a process that begins with 5 a.m. practices every Tuesday and Thursday, hour-long conditioning workouts before school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and usually after-school practices and workouts until 7 p.m. every night of the week.
“It’s just a lot of dedication, especially with school,” Heaven said. “You really have to remember the goal even when it gets hard and you don’t want to wake up so early.”
That dedication showed Saturday during the All-American Conference swim championships at Hubbard High, as Canfield won first place.
Heaven was awarded the Best Female Swimmer award, while fellow Cardinal Connor Brady was named Best Male Swimmer.
“It’s about training hard and eating right,” Brady said. “And listening to what your coach tells you because, as much as you hate to say it, coaches definitely know what they’re talking about, especially ours.”
Canfield coach Andrea Linnelli said she was pleased with both squads. The boys finished with 456.5 points, Poland coming in second with 156.5. The girls totaled 429.5, as the Bulldogs again finished second with 274.5 points.
The Cardinals were coming off a meet on Friday evening, as well as a challenging conference meet last weekend.
“Overall, for the fact it was a back-to-back, they did quite well,” Linnelli said. “They knew they probably weren’t gonna get their best times, but they pulled together and did what they had to in order to win.”
Heaven placed first in the 200 individual medley with a time of 2:25.42 and won the 100 backstroke by finishing in 1:04.11.
“I was happy with how I did place-wise, but I felt like I could have pushed myself more,” Heaven said. “It’s just one of those times that you live and you learn. Hopefully I’ll perfect it in the long run of the season.”
She was also part of Canfield’s 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle teams that each placed first. Heaven was joined by Mallory Allen, Theresa Mikolay, Olivia Williamson and Briana O’Malley.
“I think we pulled together as a team and we were all there for each other and that’s what it’s all about right now,” Heaven said. “We’re not supposed to be swimming these great times right now because we’re saving that for later on.”
Individually, Brady won the 100 butterfly and set a meet record of 55.11 in the 100 backstroke.
“I expected to be a little tired going into it, but I tried to pull as best I could, and it kind of worked,” Brady said.
He was also on the first-place 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay teams, the latter setting a meet record with a time of 3:24.79. Brady was joined by Drew Bennett, Daniel Bogen, Michael DiDomenico and Adam Weiss.
“It’s a difficult time in the season,” Brady said. “This is where we really have to buckle down and try as hard as you can at meets no matter what, and that’s what we tried to do today.”