DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Swimmers, divers ready for strong season

Fresh off an energetic effort in last week’s annual intrasquad meet, the Xavier Prep swimming and diving team is ready to rock in its season opener on Thursday (Sept. 3) at Chandler High.
The Gators are led by second-year coach Kelley Conrad and long-time diving coach Frank Pipitone.
“I’m seeing a lot of positives and the willingness to work hard,’’ said Conrad. “We are a close-knit team and I think we are more well-rounded than last year (when XCP finished fourth in the Division I state meet).
“We want to swim fast and have fun doing it.’’

Xavier swimmers mark the spot at Brophy pool. (Photo courtesy Sr. Lynn Winsor).
One swimmer who hopes to follow that aqua blueprint is Allie Worrall, a senior co-captain. She competes in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles. She finished eighth in the 50 free and sixth in the 100 free in the state meet.
Worrall suffered a shoulder injury as a sophomore, came back last year after rehabilitation and this year says she is at full strength.
“I have been practicing my springs with a good tempo, and I think I have improved a lot with the walls and turns,’’ said Worrall, who is due to make three visits to potential colleges this fall.
“I still feel I will be able to qualify (for the state meet),’’ she said.
Pipitone has been coaching diving for about 25 years, including a handful of years at Xavier. He also coaches diving at neighboring Brophy Prep.
“This is probably the best group of girls I have had as a coach,’’ he said. “The character these girls have is amazing. There’s a lot to be said for that.
“I think we are going to be strong this year. We have four freshmen coming in who should help us be really competitive.’’
Xavier’s top diver will be senior captain Libby Decker. Camryn Olhausen and Alyssa Largay will battle for the No. 2 spot, and the No. 3 spot during meets is up for grabs with just about everyone having a chance.
“We are versatile, so it will come down to who is diving the best at that particular time,’’ Pipitone said.

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