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Friars swimming aims for special postseason

St. Anthony's swimmer Melissa Bischoff.

St. Anthony's swimmer Melissa Bischoff. (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Melissa Bischoff, Kylie Danin, Aileen Fitzpatrick and LeeAnn Santore don't take it for granted that each is a member of the St. Anthony's girls swimming program.

"They know how special it is to be on this team," Friars coach Dan McBride said. "Not everyone gets a chance to wear the black and gold."

Bischoff, Danin, Fitzpatrick and Santore are wearing those colors proudly this season. All four are integral parts for St. Anthony's in its pursuit of a fourth consecutive CHSAA title.

Sophomore Meghan Slattery's name deserves to be thrown into the mix as well, especially after she qualified for the state meet in the 100-yard freestyle (53.97) during the Friars' 94-71 win over Sacred Heart on Wednesday night.

St. Anthony's improved to 7-0 overall, with one dual meet left Thursday against St. Mary's.

"She is absolutely incredible," McBride said of Slattery. "So fast, so polite and so smart. She is No.1 in her class, the Valedictorian."

Having Slattery on board gives McBride the depth needed to compete with "friendly rival" Sacred Heart, the two-time Catholic league champs (2008-09), and "fantastic young programs" in St. Francis Prep and The Mary Louis Academy.

Bischoff, a senior co-captain, is one of the team's primary vocal leaders. Her ability to dominate the 100 backstroke, where she holds the Catholic League record (57.78), and 100 butterfly makes her a swimmer to watch.

"When you see her underwater on kickoffs, her ability to kick off the wall, she is amazing at that," McBride said. "She has that dolphin kick, which is superior. Hard work pays off for her. I have seen her go above and beyond the maximum effort."

Danin and Fitzpatrick, both juniors, are right there effort wise with Bischoff. Danin specializes in the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly, while Fitzpatrick is a distance swimmer, competing in the 200 free and 500 free.

"They compete at the highest of levels," McBride said. "What I admire about them is that they understand what it means to be a team player in helping the younger swimmers."

Santore, another junior, is one of the Friars' top competitors in the breaststroke, and is hopeful to make states in the 100 butterfly, McBride said.

St. Anthony's, which placed third in the state the past two years, will try and capture the top spot when this year's state championships kick off two weeks after the Catholic League championships in Ithaca.

"You can't just have one swimmer in each event," McBride said. " One good swimmer doesn't cut it. You need multiple swimmers to score points for you. It is more of a team sport than people give it credit for."