LEWISBURG - For the second straight day, Ed Zawatski propelled himself to new heights.
And it brought the Wyoming Valley West star another day of state honors.
Zawatski swam the boys 100 freestyle in a personal record-breaking time Thursday, finishing second in the consolation race and 10th overall in 45 seconds flat during the PIAA Class 3A Swimming and Diving Championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.
“I don’t weight train,” Zawatski said. “A lot of these kids here are bulkier than I am. Doing it by myself, with my skinny body, doing it with talent and will, I’m very proud of that.”
He should be.
The Spartans’ junior took home the only Class 3A state medal of the event when he finished fourth in Wednesday’s 50 freestyle while swimming a 20.73 - the second-best time of his career.
He topped that effort Thursday, swimming his best-ever time of 45 seconds in the 100 freestyle. That performance earned him an All-State Swimming Team honorable mention in the 100 free after making the All-State first team - selected on state finishes in each event - in the 50 freestyle.
“Great job,” chortled Wyoming Valley West coach Frank Tribendis. “His fastest time ever, that put him (as) all-state honorable mention. He keeps improving. That’s what he’s working for. He’s always looking for finding a better way to get the job done.”
The job ended early for a few other District 2 swimmers.
Zawatski’s Wyoming Valley West teammate Michael Yeninas finished 32nd in preliminary swim of the 100 breaststroke, and Valley West’s boys 400 freestyle relay team wound up 24th in preliminaries. And the Hazleton Area girls 400 freestyle relay team, which included Felicia Grego swimming in her third event at states, finished 22nd on Thursday morning.
That left Zawatski as the only WVC swimmer to return under the spotlight at night - during both nights of this year’s Class 3A state competition.
He didn’t leave disappointed.
After posting a preliminary time of 46.64, which placed him in the consolation race at 12th overall and fourth in the night run, Zawatski moved up a couple spots by the event’s end by going out strong and nearly holding off the field.
“My coach came up with a different strategy,” Zawatski said, “go as fast as you can for the first 50 (meters), but then keep pushing through. Let them chase you.”
It nearly worked to perfection.
Zawatski was in the lead at the halfway point of the consolation race, and was an eyelash away from winning it.
He was touched out by Bangor senior Zach Kantz, who won Wednesday’s 50 freestyle and captured the consolation race of the 100 just ahead of Zawatski at 45.66.
“We talked about our philosophy, which is to get out as fast as you can and be as tough as you can,” Tribendis said. “He swims against these guys all year ‘round. He goes to USS meets, swims with them and challenges them. He has the ability to stay with them.”
It seems Zawatski has the ability to stay consistent.
After earning a fifth-place medal in the 50 freestyle and a second-place finish in 100 during the 2013 PIAA Swimming and Diving championships, Zawatski matched that performance in the 100 and moved up a spot in the 50 during his junior state run.
“It’s good,” Zawatski said. “I maintained the same position I got in last year.”
That’s a long way from his freshman season, when Zawatski entered state competition seeded as a contender to at least finish among the top 16 in both the 50 and 100 freestyles and didn’t make it out of the preliminaries in either.
“My freshman year, my coach tapered me and shaved me for districts and did not do that for states,” Zawatski said. “The last two years, I tapered for states only - just make it through districts - and I think it’s a good plan.”
Evidently, because it’s brought Zawatski some of the best finishes of his career.
“He’s swimming harder and harder to make sure it happens,” Tribendis said.