High-point Pirhanas Shirey and Ham

Palestine YMCA Piranhas Gideon Ham (left) and Gavin Shirley (right) pose with their custom-designed trophy towels. They earned individual high-point honors in their respective age-groups Saturday at the East Texas Summer Swim League Championship Meet in Tyler.

Ham was second in the Boys 7-8 age-group and Shirey was first in the Boys 11-12 age-group. The “Champs” Meet was hosted by the Tyler Rose Aquatic Club at the Tyler Independent School District’s Olympic-size pool.

Palestine YMCA Piranhas Gavin Shirey, 12, and Gideon Ham, 8, achieved individual high-point honors in their respective age groups during the East Texas Summer Swim League (ETSSL) Championship Meet Saturday. The Tyler Rose Aquatic Club hosted a record 389 athletes for “Champs” at the Tyler Independent School District's Olympic-size pool in Tyler.

Shirey was hands-down winner of the Boys 11-12 high-point award. He won triple gold medals in the 50-yard freestyle (29.57), 50-yard backstroke (35.36), and the 100-yard individual medley (1:16.20). He also brought home the bronze in the 50-yard breaststroke (42.78).

“All the hard work Gavin puts into our early morning practices are paying dividends,” observed Piranha Head Coach Kathrine Newton. “He tries really hard to keep up with the older kids in the group.”

Ham earned the second place individual high-point honor in the Boys 7-8 age-group.

“Gideon touched-out his rival, Mr. Wang of the Tyler Titans, for a best time of 16.36 and a gold medal in the 25-yard freestyle,” said Newton. “Like Gavin, Gideon’s hard work during practice makes a difference.”

Ham’s winning spree also included two silver medals and one bronze. He placed second in both the 25-yard backstroke (21.15) and the 25-yard butterfly (19.52). He was third in the 100-yard individual medley.

Madison Crader, 17, was in the hunt for the Girls 15 & Over individual high-point status with a silver medal in the 50-yard breaststroke (34.79) and a bronze medal in the 50-yard freestyle (28.95). She finished her drive with a fourth-place finish in the individual medley (1:11.77) and sixth in the 50-yard butterfly (32.85).

Facing heavy competition, six other Piranhas held their own to place among the top 10 in a variety of events.

Liberty Ham, 6, placed eighth in the Girls 6 & Under 25-yard freestyle (36.32).

Marisa Denney, 9, touched the wall in fifth place for the Girls 9-10 25-yard backstroke (21.15).

Jonathan Ham, 9, took fifth in the Boys 9-10 25-yard freestyle (16.69).

Luke Scala, 12, finished sixth in the Boys 11-12 50-yard freestyle (34.43) and ninth in the 50-yard butterfly (52.22).

Jad Absy, 14, swam his best times for a ninth place in the Boys 13-14 50-yard freestyle (28.78) and a 10th place in 50-yard backstroke (37.22)

John Berry, 15, garnered ninth in the Boys 15 & Over 50-yard backstroke (34.14) and 10th in the 100-yard freestyle (1:02.92).

Next weekend the Piranhas will represent the Palestine YMCA at the 2019 YMCA Lone Star State Championship in Frisco, Texas.