Sister-talk is usually reserved for topics like boys, clothes or hairstyles, but in the Dressel home add one more -- swimming.
Marissa Dressel and her older sister, Lindsay, covered them all, with swimming perhaps getting the most mileage. Marissa grew up watching Lindsay swim for Kenmore West. That was all the motivation she needed when she burst upon the scene for the Blue Devils as a seventh-grader.
"We always talk about swimming, all the time. It was something we share," said Marissa, now a sophomore. "She was having so much fun when she started it made me want to do it. It's really hard when you first start, but it's really worth it when you know what you're doing."
Marissa has proved to be a quick study, having won seven Section VI titles. She made history as a seventh-grader, winning the 500-yard freestyle. In eighth grade she won the 200 free and was on the winning 400 free relay. Last year she won the 200 individual medley, the 100 butterfly and was on two winning relays.
When the Section VI Swimming and Diving Championships begin this week she'll be entered in the 200 free, 500 free and both free relays.
Linsday, 20, is currently swimming for Geneseo. Marissa said her older sister "doesn't mind" that she is swimming faster times than she ever did. But Marissa is also swimming faster than anyone in the section. She currently has the second-fastest time in the state in the 50 free (24.13 seconds) and broke four Niagara Frontier League records this season.
Marissa is a naturally gifted swimmer with textbook strokes.
"She is definitely by far the best swimmer I have coached," said Carrie Meetze, in her ninth season. "A nice compliment I've gotten is anytime we have a swim meet, it's the officials who will say they love when they are assigned to Kenmore West because they love watching her swim. I never had that kind
of compliment from an official before. She just makes it look so easy."
The sectional champions, plus those hitting state cut times during the season, advance to the New York State Championships on Nov. 16-17 at the Nassau County Aquatic Center (Section VIII).
Dressel won the 100 fly and 200 IM last year, but she will not defend those titles. She's going after the 200 and 500 free titles and is looking to help West repeat in the 200 and 400 free relays.
Williamsville East returns sophomore Bailey Woodling, junior Kristin Ostanski and senior Janelle Munroe from its 200 medley relay team. Munroe also won the 100 backstroke.
Clarence's Victoria Jacumski returns in the 100 breaststroke, where she is the top seed.
Senior Casey Matthews of Williamsville North is back in diving.
Matthews not only enters sectionals as a two-time state champion, she's also the six-dive state record holder.
In a dual meet with Sweet Home this season, she scored 354.05 points to shatter the state record of 322.65 held since 1996 and the Section VI record of 306.65.
On Wednesday she'll be chasing Section VI's 11-dive record of 536.75. Matthews came in at 535.35 during the ECIC Championships. She said she's going to keep the same optional dives and just try to improve. Pressure is something Matthews welcomes.
"I feel like I dive better, I'm more focused on how I replay the dives in my head," she said.
Matthews has narrowed her college choices to Auburn and Purdue. Coaches from both colleges are coming to Williamsville this week for home visits.
Matthews, senior Sarah Masters of Amherst and junior Ashley Jones of Lockport are the top three seeds.
Eighth-grader Alycia Gosset of Fredonia scored 380.75 in her league meet, which is within reach of the 395 needed to reach states.
Around the pools
It will be the first sectional meet in 26 years that Art Aungst is not coaching Orchard Park. Aungst retired, but he is still coaching the OP boys. Debby Dourlain has taken over. . . . Southwestern sophomore Madeline Shults is 0.18 away from qualifying for states in the 50 free. . . A swimmer to watch is ninth-grader Courtney Otto of West Seneca West, who is within 0.53 of qualifying in the 500 free. . . . Jennifer Bentley of Jamestown was the Class AA Swimmer of the Meet at ECICs while Julie Strychalski of Depew was the Class A honoree. Look for Bentley (100, 200 free), and freshman teammate Lauren Caldwell (200 IM, 100 fly) to challenge for titles. . . . East Aurora junior Claudia Cedfeldt looks to make her mark again in the 100 breast and reach her second straight state meet. . . . Sophomore Paige Gutowski of Sweet Home has had a big season so far. She's broken four school records, three pool records at different pools and has only lost one individual race all year. At Sectionals she'll battle Jacumski for titles in the 200 IM and 100 breast. The girls are seeded 1-2 in both events. . . . Senior Juliana Walker of Frewsburg qualified for states in the 100 fly in the CCAA meet. . . . Sophomore Karen Meess and freshman Rachel Heferle, both from Frontier, are the top seeds in the 100 back.
Nardin the favorite
Two Nardin swimmers will look to defend their titles at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the All-Catholic Championships at Erie Community College-City.
Sophomore Lauren Marchese is back in the 200 IM and junior Anna Plunkett returns in the 100 fly. Marchese is the only swimmer in the league so far to qualify for states. The Gators are also the defending team champion.