T-D HS Swimming


Athlete of the week | Nollaig Noll

By: Mike Kovak

JOHNSTOWN — Name: Nollaig Noll
School: Westmont Hilltop
Year: Junior
Sport: Swimming
Noll’s week: The Hilltoppers’ swimming standout won two individual events and was part of two winning relays in a key 105-65 victory at Somerset and followed with two more wins in a victory over Central.
Against Somerset, Noll won the 50-yard freestyle and 100 freestyle in addition to being part of the 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams. She considers the shorter freestyle swims her specialty.
“There’s something about the sprints that I like,” Noll said. “I started swimming when I was five and my times just kept getting faster and faster.”
That doesn’t mean Noll can’t compete in other events, and Westmont Hilltop coach John Hicks takes advantage of Noll’s rare versatility depending on the opponent.
“I can probably put her in any event and she would probably finish first,” Hicks said. “I try not to swim her in her special events every meet because I don’t want her to hit a plateau. Swimmers get frustrated if they’re not their best all the time.”
Among the best: Noll ranks among the top swimmers at Westmont and in
District 6.
A sprint specialist, Noll holds the Westmont Hilltop girls’ record in the 50 freestyle with a time of :25.06. Noll, already a two-time District 6 champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle events, hopes to eclipse that time soon.
“I’m hoping to go under 25 seconds. It’s been my goal to get 24 seconds,” she said. “If I can do that, I’ll qualify for the YMCA Nationals (from April 3-6 in Greensboro, N.C.). I made it my freshman year in the 50, but they changed the time and made the standard faster.”
Another goal: Noll, who also swims competitively for Greater Johnstown YMCA, has already qualified for the PIAA championships twice, but has definite plans for this year’s meet.
“I really want to make it to either the (consolation) finals or the top eight finals for a medal. That would be awesome,” she said. “Last year, I tied for 17th and the top 16 make it to the final day. I missed it by three-hundreths of a second.”
As a freshman, Noll placed 27th at states, so she’s hoping for a similar 10-place improvement.
“One of our many goals is to medal at states,” Hicks said. “I hope she can do it and I think she can. It’s a real personal goal for her.”
What’s in a name: Noll’s first name is an Old Irish term for Christmas.