Natalie Dillivan

More stories from Natalie Dillivan

December 12, 2019

Natalie Dillivan

Lady Panther Swim Team Seniors pose in front of the flags at the last home meet, held at the Powell Aquatic Center. Seniors from left to right: Hannah Hawley, Sidney O’Brien, Anna Fuller, Lauren Lejeune, Rachel Kuntz and Ashlyn Aguirre

A long, dark gown, and a small orange stole to lay across it. A gymnasium full of thousands of people, all eyes on you as you walk across that stage and give your principal the ole Pittsburgh goodbye: a shuck on the arm and a firm handshake, for the last time. 

Seniors across the country dream of this moment, the moment they graduate and move on to the next phase of their lives. 

However, the seniors on the Lady Panther swim team just said goodbye to the teammates who have become family, and as custom, the event was emotional on the annual Senior Night on Oct. 18 at the Powell Aquatic Center.

The six senior Lady Panthers include: Rachel Kuntz, Ashlyn Aguirre, Sidney O’Brien, Lauren Lejeune, Hannah Hawley and Anna Fuller. 

The Lady Panthers put on a mini ceremony for the girls, with the senior parents escorting their senior on the side of the pool deck, with Diving Coach Ms. Heather Christensen handing out flower bouquets and with Assistant Coach Miss Bailey Jackson reading off the responses to a sheet each senior filled out. 

Said sheets were a way for each girl to look back on their senior year, and included their favorite team memory, a piece of advice for the younger girls and some of the people who have supported them through it all. 

Here is each senior’s favorite memory:

“ … water-bending with the seniors and doing synchronized swimming for a practice my freshman year,” Kuntz said. 

“… when I qualified [for state] my freshman year. Although I was upset that I had to swim for two more weeks, seeing how happy my sister and mom were was the best part about it,” Aguirre said.  

I accidentally ordered 24 tacos, and I ate all of them,”

— Lauren Lejeune


“… going to distance practice every day, and attempting to persuade Coach Bailey to make the set easier. When she denied my request, even though it was pure agony, I got to swim and race alongside my two best friends, Addison Moretti and Elizabeth Liggett, which was the best feeling in the world,” Fuller said. 

“ … simply, ‘doing the Tayna’,” O’Brien said. 

“… is when Coach Bob taught us this cheer to flex in front of the boys: ’Rah, Rah, Ree, kick ‘em in the knee. Rah, Rah, Rass, kick em in the… other knee,’” Hawley said. 

Aside from the ceremony, the meet itself proved to be successful for the Lady Panthers with a 153-point victory over the Riverton Lady Wolverines. 

“The [Lady Panthers] won 11 out of 12 events including 1-2-3-4 performances in the 50 free, diving, 100 fly and 500 free,” Head Coach Bob Smartt said. 

Aside from the team’s success, a few seniors also had strong individual  performances, with Kuntz winning the 100 breastroke and Fuller winning the 100 free. 

There were also some personal records reached in the meet; Aguirre in the 200 IM and the 100 backstroke and Fuller in the 100 free and the 100 backstroke. 

Two seniors went above and beyond their previous state times as well. 

“Our Panthers achieved 19 state marks, meaning they’ve beaten their state time from the previous year. This includes double state times by Moretti, O’Brien and Kuntz,” Smartt said. 

PHS  also increased the number of state qualifiers for this year at Senior Night as sophomore Taycee Walker qualified in diving.

The 18 state qualifiers include 4 of the 6 seniors: Kuntz, O’Brien, Aguirre and Fuller.

Kuntz has qualified in the 200 IM, 100 butterfly and the 100 breastroke. Aguirre has qualified in the 200 free, 200 individual medley, 100 fly, 100 back and 500 free. O’Brien has qualified in every event except the 200 IM and the 500 free, and Fuller has qualified in all eight events. 

The state swimming and diving meet will be contested Nov. 7-8 in Gillette.