Bellefonte boys’ swimmer Chance Foster wore an Alabama Crimson Tide sweatshirt to the PIAA Championships on Saturday at Bucknell’s Kinney Natatorium.
Ahead of his 100 breaststroke preliminaries, Foster wanted to be in a “champion’s state of mind” — just another way to get his confidence juiced before pursuing a spot in the top-16, necessary to make the event finals.
In heartbreaking fashion, though, the senior fell short, clocking in at 17th place, just 0.20 seconds behind No. 16.
While it pained Foster not to make the finals, the senior is satisfied with his last high school heat.
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“I feel very accomplished,” Foster said. “To go from not knowing how to swim at all (in 9th grade) to 17th in the state is great in my opinion.”
Foster, who started swimming competitively as a freshman, has made notable strides. From nailing down technique to cutting down on times over the years, Foster made his coach proud on Saturday.
“It’s always tough when you’re that close,” Bellefonte coach Laura Randazzo said. “He’s come such a long way ... I think it showed today.”
Foster, the only Bellefonte participant in Saturday’s events, was supported poolside by not only Randazzo, but also his family, friends and teammates.
Foster was emotional when asked about having so many positive influences in his corner.
“It was amazing for them to support me, even though I was the only one swimming,” the senior said. “They put me before them, which meant everything to me. I can’t thank them enough for the last four years.”
A captain on the boys’ team, Foster has meant quite a lot to the Bellefonte program, especially how much the swimming landscape at the school has recently changed.
Just a couple years ago, the Red Raiders finished third place in the state.
“Now we’re kind of struggling numbers-wise,” former Bellefonte swimmer and current volunteer coach Matthew Horner said.
But Foster has done everything in his power to bolster Bellefonte’s stock.
“He’s helped bring the team up,” Horner said of his former teammate. “He encourages other swimmers. He tries to lift everyone else up.”
Now, with his high school career wrapped up, Foster isn’t sure if he’ll compete collegiately. Randazzo said he definitely has the skill to do so, but it’s up to Foster whether or not he wants to.
Regardless of his decision — something he said he’ll make in the next month or two — it’s clear Foster left an indelible mark on not only the Bellefonte program, but also his coach and teammates.
“I’m pretty happy with how this has turned out,” Foster said. “I definitely have a love for the sport ... I don’t know if I want to continue doing it.
“But I’m happy I did in high school.”
Forstmeier represents St. Joseph’s
St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy sophomore Peter Forstmeier didn’t have an ideal showing at the state championships — he placed 32nd in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:08.34 — but he was still excited to represent his school.
Forstmeier is just the Wolves’ second-ever swimmer, and made his first appearance at the state tournament.
The sophomore said he hopes to be back next year and the year after.
“I love it. To get St. Joseph’s name out there is pretty sweet, especially in this setting,” Forstmeier said, wearing an orange “St. Joe’s Swimming” shirt the school’s track & field team got for him. “It’s a really tight-knit school. It’s phenomenal.”