RESILIENT RAIDERS: Brookville Swimming Celebrates Strides Made During 2023-24 Season

BROOKVILLE (EYT) – The 2023-24 campaign was one that showcased true resilience for both the boys’ and girls’ swimming programs at Brookville for different reasons.

(Pictured above from left to right is the relay team of Maggie Snodgrass, Ella Fiscus, Kerrigan Swartz, Callie Snodgrass.)

(Photos courtesy of Susan Fenske)

The girls’ program went from several winless seasons in a row a few years back to undefeated 2024 District 9 champions with a 12-0 meet record. The program also featured seven state qualifiers this season and is primed for even more success next year. Several of these state qualifiers are returning next year and will be leaders in helping the Lady Raiders try to repeat as district champions.

The boys’ side was a different type of resiliency showcased this year.  The program performed well with an 8-4 overall meet record, but what made this group of young men resilient is the fact that they turned in such a successful season despite just 10 athletes on the roster. Their determination to fight in the pool despite low numbers was fully on display this season and led to them finding success regardless of the rosters’ construction.

Brookville Head Swimming and Diving Coach Ray Doolittle has proven to be an impactful coach for the program since taking the reins as head man in the 2019-20 season. He helped the girls’ program rebound from 76 consecutive dual meet losses over eight years and has the program poised to be a contender at the district level for the foreseeable future. He’s also been a leader and key mentor for boys’ swimming standout and North Clarion High School senior, Patrick Young, who has rewritten not just many program records, but several pool records as well.

Senior Patrick Young is shown competing in what was a standout season.

“To me, this was an exciting season to be a part of all around,” Doolittle said. “On the girls’ side, there was a sense from Day One that a D9 championship and a season this successful could be possible. We focused on ‘doing the little things right,’ which was working hard each and every practice, bringing great attitudes each day, and being united as a team through laughter, friendship, and finding ways to build each other up. Doing those things made it possible to go undefeated and win the district championship.”

Doolittle continued, “The boys’ team was different just because of less numbers. This team fought so hard and finished up with what I view as a very successful season. Some of the most exciting races of the season were in the boys’ meets and were relays that decided who won the meet. Every time they were in the situation where a relay team could win the meet for the program, they stepped up and did just that.”

The program featured five seniors between the two teams…Kerrigan Swartz, Ella Fiscus, Patrick Young, Ryker Selnekovic, and Alec Geer.

Swartz and Fiscus have been two of the leaders who helped turn Lady Raiders swimming from afterthought to force in their four years and led in the way that actions speak louder than words.

“These two girls have been swimming since they were very young in the YMCA ranks. They’ve become friends and incredible mentors to the younger swimmers. I can’t speak enough about what this duo has meant to the program over these last few years. The boys’ team was led in the pool by Patrick (Young), who will be swimming at the college level at the United States Coast Guard Academy. His fellow seniors Ryker (Selnekovic) and Alec (Geer), are also incredibly talented people. We were fortunate for what each of these two brought to the program. I was thrilled to see Alec’s athletic talent in the pool on display as a returner for his senior year and am thankful for a young man like Ryker who worked hard for our program and has a very bright future in music. He’s immensely talented and focused on this.”

The program featured a total of 32 swimmers this season and welcomed swimmers from not just Brookville, but also a few schools in Clarion County.

The co-op has been a wonderful opportunity for swimmers who would not be able to compete on the varsity level for their own district to have the chance to be a varsity athlete in the sport of swimming. Brothers Patrick and Kevin Young have taken advantage of the opportunity as North Clarion students who found themselves competing in the PIAA Swimming and Diving State Championships in March. They were also joined from Clarion Area High School by three freshman phenoms on the girls’ side in sisters Callie Snodgrass and Maggie Snodgrass, along with Lila Gourley.

Though they may be from a small collection of schools, being a Brookville Raiders swimmer is a mission that unites them. When they’re in the pool or on the deck, the school they attend never matters.

“We don’t view any of our athletes as co-op swimmers,” Doolittle explained. “When they’re in the water or on the pool deck, they’re a swimmer of mine and want to excel, I want to help them, period. It’s my mission to help them become the best individual in and out of the pool that they can be. I’ll never see these swimmers for what their zip code is or what bus they ride to get here.”

The program saw 11 swimmers earn the opportunity to advance out of the District 9 championships to represent the program on the state level either insightfully or as a sort of relay team. The girls’ team featured state qualifiers in Callie Snodgrass (200 medley relay, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay), Maggie Snodgrass (200 medley relay, 200 individual medley, 100 breaststroke, 400 freestyle relay), Lucy Golier (50 freestyle), Lila Gourley (100 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay), Kerrigan Swartz (200 medley relay), Ella Fiscus (200 medley relay), and Erika Doolittle (400 freestyle relay).

Pictured from left to right is the relay team of Erika Doolittle, Lila Gourley, Violet Harper, Cora Parson.

The boys’ team featured four of their own with Patrick Young, Kevin Young, Sergio Sotillo, and Luke Fiscus qualifying for states in the 200 medley relay, and Patrick qualifying for the state meet in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, too.

In what was a very successful campaign, these winning seasons and accolades are achievements that each of these young people can enjoy and cherish for the rest of their lives. However, the returners will strive forward to obtain or exceed these marks come the fall of 2024.

“I’m extremely proud of every single swimmer I had the pleasure of coaching this season,” Doolittle said. “Each one of our swimmers scored points for the team this season, which meant nobody was left out on making an impact for us. What each of them did as individuals and as a program is nothing short of phenomenal. I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about heading into next season. We need to continue to focus on the small details like camaraderie, having the right attitude, practicing great technique, building endurance, and unlocking top-end speed. Just like this season, if we do those little things next year, it will take us to where we want to go.”

While winning is certainly nice, there were some full circle moments that occurred for the program this season that will certainly mean a lot to members of this program for the rest of their lives.

Coach Doolittle had the unique opportunity to coach his daughter, Erika, on the varsity level this season. He also feels fortunate to have his son, Luc, nearby who has begun coaching at the YMCA level to help youngsters develop skills in the water while finding a passion for the sport. The Young brothers had the chance to compete at both districts and states on the same relay team for the first and only time, with Patrick being a senior and Kevin a freshman.

The Snodgrass sisters, Callie and Maggie, also enjoyed the opportunity to compete on two relays at the state meet together; something the duo will hope to replicate more as their high school careers continue. Siblings Ella and Luke Fiscus also had the opportunity for the first time to compete at the same state meet with Ella being a senior and Luke being a freshman. There’s also a second-generation swimmer in Sergio Sotillo who takes after his mom, Bambi Bowser. Bowser continues to hold numerous records in Lady Raider history and each time Sotillo enters the pool, he will surely keep working to be the best he can be. The record board is his reminder that it can be done.

In their own ways, the Brookville boys’ and girls programs overcame adversity to have winning seasons. The girls showcased strength in numbers en route to a District 9 title, while the boys’ team showcased impeccable heart despite a small team to complete a winning season.

The future of Brookville swimming is bright and the 2023-24 season was a true testament of just that.

Pictured is teammate Lucy Golier on the medal stand for the 50 freestyle. She is joined by Kerrigan Swartz who took silver and Megan Fenske who took bronze. It was an all-Brookville medaled event at the 2024 District 9 Swimming and Diving Championships.

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