North Xtra: Fox Chapel swimming with fast crowd

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The Fox Chapel Area High School girls swimming team has torpedo-like speed.

Junior Sia Beasley and senior Anna Mucci are using theirs to build a new 200-yard medley relay team.

Flash back to March's PIAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Beasley and Mucci along with Madeleine Souza and the graduated Carly Jones had notched a sixth place in the WPIAL to qualify for the state championship meet. Their WPIAL time was 1:50.32.

At the state meet, the four girls bobbed, thrashed and pulled their way through the preliminaries. Beasley also competed in the 200-yard freestyle event after the relay race. But coach Todd Clark gathered Souza, Mucci, and Jones together for some bad news.

"We actually got disqualified in the prelims," said Mucci, who explained the disqualification was due to a false start.

"It was a little crushing," Mucci added. "We were a little bit upset to say the least. But we'll use it as motivation for the rest of the year."

Beasley heard the news from Clark by herself.

"It was upsetting," she said. "We would have been in the finals and for those you get to be on TV.

"Everyone was upset, but we just got over it and had a really good time."

The Foxes swam through the summer and fall. Mucci and Beasley both swim for the Fox Chapel Killer Whales, a club in the Allegheny Mountain Swimming division of USA Swimming.

Madeleine Souza has made the decision not to swim her senior year, and Carly Jones graduated. This left Mucci, Beasley and Clark with the task of putting together a whole new relay.

"We have a good sophomore, Frannie Dean," said Beasley. "She had a really good summer -- breaststroke is really her thing. We don't have a lot of breaststrokers on our team but Frannie is very, very good."

Mucci has also given Beasley and Clark plenty of helpful input on how to fill the two "open" spots of the relay.

"We have some really strong sophomores we're probably going to use," she said. "Other than that, we don't really know. It depends on how our season goes."

Beasley added that the crew who will swim with the goals of WPIAL and state honors will probably not be decided until mid-February.

Last season, Mucci swam the last 50-yards of the relay -- the freestyle leg. Beasley had started the race off with the backstroke.

But both girls may change which portion of the relay they do this year.

"Anna can do the butterfly or the back," said Beasley. "We'll see what comes out fastest."

Beasley explained that she prefers to do the backstroke, but that she'll swim any part of the relay that most helps her team. With Dean slated for the breaststroke, the girls are left with some decisions on the freestyle.

"We're trying to brainstorm and see what we could do," said Beasley. "We could just train someone to swim a fast 50 freestyle -- we just need to figure out where someone could be introduced in the relay."

Beasley actually excels in a number of races for Fox Chapel -- the 200 free, 100 butterfly and backstroke, the 500 free and medley relay.

"She's probably the strongest girl on the team," said Mucci. "She went to states her freshman and sophomore years."

Mucci is also a versatile athlete. She competes in the 200 IM, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly events in addition to the relay. As a senior, she is looking at the possibility of swimming in college.

"My top choice is the University of Rochester, and I'm looking to swim there," she said.

For this winter, however, Mucci and Beasley are in the process of getting Fox Chapel back in state title contention. It's a process that involves staying positive and recognizing good resources.

"We've been trying to find out what a solid relay could be with the swimmers we have," Mucci said.

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