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Gertenbach makes big splash in freshman season

March 02, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

The splash Randy Gertenbach made in the University of Pittsburgh's pool was certainly a big one.

The former Central Union High standout swimmer captured the Big East Conference title in the 200-yard breaststroke recently during a standout freshman season for the Panthers.

"We started out coming in with 15 freshman," Gertenbach said. "We outnumbered the upperclassmen. (Coach) Chuck (Knoles) was adamant about having us work and we all bonded well. We became a big family after the first week and he's thankful we came in and progressed during the season."

"We became a better team and decided to show what we were made of," he said of his class. "We wanted to try to get in the top 25 and we made it to No. 15. Hopefully we can do better next year."


Gertenbach's season certainly peaked at the Big East championships in Hempstead, N.Y. The former Spartan raced to a time of 2 minutes 1.41 seconds to win the breaststroke. He also was part of the 400 medley relay team that won the conference title.

"I just wanted to come in and prove a point and have fun with this," Gertenbach said. "My coach never told me I could win. He just told me to go out and have fun. My main focus was on making the NCAAs."

Gertenbach's time was faster than any other Big East swimmer and fast enough to earn him consideration for the NCAA meet. However, it was not fast enough for Gertenbach.

"After the morning swim I was happy with my time," he said. "I wanted to go a little faster at the night swim. I wanted to go 2:01, but it didn't happen. I was disappointed in my time. I wanted to go faster. But when my coach came up and gave me a hug, it was a good feeling. After that I just enjoyed the moment."

After completing his senior season at Paradise Valley High School in Arizona, Gertenbach has made the adjustment to major college swimming quite nicely, but he sees the difference between the two pools.

"Coming into college I was seeing nationally ranked swimmers every time I would swim," he said. "They come in here and lay everything on the line at every meet. In high school you can kind of take it easy. In college you have to have your head on your shoulders and be prepared for fast swimming. There is a much better atmosphere in college. You have more support and you get much more pumped up for meets."

Gertenbach must wait until next week to learn whether his time will earn him a trip to the NCAA meet. His time must be in the top 18 in the country to earn a berth.

Whether he makes the NCAA tournament or not, Gertenbach thinks this season is one on which he will be able to build.

"I look forward to next year," he said. "Not a lot of freshmen make the NCAAs and I wanted to be the one. But if I don't then I want to make the NCAAs sophomore through senior year. I want to win three more conference championships and keep our rankings up so we can prove ourselves to the rest of the nation. By senior year I hope to have my best swims ever and go out with a bang."

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