AHS Varsity swimmers topped by Johnstown

Freshman Kayla Dzikowicz earned a first place finish in the 50 meter freestyle, and eighth grader MacKenzie Farina took first in the 100 meter breaststroke Thursday afternoon at the Lynch Literacy Academy pool during the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity swim teams’ 88-68 loss to Johnstown. Both swimmers are part of a young swim team that is competing in its first season in the Foothills Council.

However, the change from the Big 10 to the Foothills hasn’t had much of an impact on the team.

“Our life hasn’t really changed,” said Amsterdam coach Nancy Spagnola. “We went out to Glens Falls and Hudson Falls came to us, but we swim in the Aqua League so it really doesn’t affect us.”

The roster for the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity swim team features a lot of talent and potential. The majority of the swimmers are in the seventh through ninth grades. In fact Amsterdam has only one senior; Justine Youngs, who has been counted on for leadership in and out of the pool.

“She’s been swimming since she joined Sea Rams,” said Coach Spagnola. “She’s doing an amazing job. She’s been directing the girls in the pool and during practice, and leading them in demonstrating sportsmanship and commitment.”

Youngs was vocal throughout the match and often at one end of the pool or the other encouraging her teammates. When she was competing in the pool, Youngs earned a second place finish in the 200 meter individual medley with a time of 2 minutes 48.91 seconds, and a third place finish in the 100 meter butterfly (1:26:56). The senior also teamed up with Dzikowicz, freshman Paige Bertuch and eighth grader Lauren Satniago for a second place finish in the 200 meter medley relay (2:26:58).

“I’m really proud of her,” said Coach Spagnola. “She’s versatile, and will swim in any event I put her in. We’re going to miss her.”

Youngs’ leadership will be realized for years to come. The Lady Rams varsity team has plenty of youth on its side. Dzikowicz, Bertuch, and Abby McNamara are freshman, Santiago, Farina, and Juliana Busseno, who missed the meet due to an injury are eighth graders, and Grace Patrei is in seventh grade. Many of the swimmers compete for the Sea Rams program that runs during the year, yet the team is looking for new members each year.

“Most of my girls are in the Sea Rams, and some start really young.,” said Coach Spagnola. “We try to pick up girls for the varsity team each year.”

Amsterdam got second place finishes from Santiago in the 500 meter freestyle (7:21:78), and

Bertuch in the 100 meter backstroke (1:27:81), and third place finishes from Santiago in the 50 meter freestyle with a time of 31.35 seconds, Patrei in the 100 meter freestyle with a time of 1:15:07, Farina in the 200 meter freestyle at 2:53:22, and McNamara in the 100 meter backstroke (1:39:71). Gemma Liverio was fourth in the 100 meter freestyle with a time of 1:31:09, and Illiana Sanchez fifth at 1:32:03.

Dzikowicz’s winning time in the 50 meter freestyle was 28:85 seconds. Farina’s time in the 100 backstroke was 1:48:70.

For Johnstown, Emma Rizzo won as the lone competitor in the diving event. Erica Wagner took first in the 200 meter freestyle and the 100 meter butterfly. Cecelia Mowrey won the 100 freestyle event. Johnstown also won the relay events in the 200 meter freestyle, 400 meter freestyle and 200 meter medley.

The Lady Rams have a youthful team with plenty of time to improve before their time on the varsity team is done. For Justine Youngs, her last home meet in the Lynch pool is Amsterdam’s meet with Schenectady on Tuesday, October 28th.


Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.