Bower Hill Set to Defend title

Published Jul 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm (Updated Jul 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm)

When he was 7, Alex Hardwick remembers breaking the country club record for the 100-yard freestyle relay with his buddies, Joe Repischak, Ryan Dudzinski and Jake Murphy at Valley Brook. Today, the recent Upper St. Clair High School graduate enjoys watching other young swimmers set their own standards.

“It’s exciting,” said Hardwick, who is bound for Emory University in August.

Indeed, for the past four years, Harwick has thrilled over the achievements of his charges on the Bower Hill Swim Club. In addition to being the team’s head coach, he has served as a lifeguard for the past two seasons.

“I love the coaching by far,” said Hardwick of his preference over guarding. “It brings back so many memories when I was younger and swimming was carefree. The best part is seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids and the parents.”

Bower Hill has been all smiles for some time now as the team has won the last three South Hills Swim Club championships. With a win last week over Elmhurst in Washington, Hardwick says the club is in ‘good shape’ to defend its title once again. The finals will be held at 6 p.m. July 22 at Woodland Hills Swim Club. In addition to Bower Hill, Elmhurst and Woodland Hills, the combined South Hills and Cloverleaf YMCAs, Rose Garden and Hunting Ridge compete in the conference. According to Hardwick, teams ‘bring Title

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their best line-up’ to the meet. There will be one individual per event as well as each club’s fastest relays.

“There’s a little pressure,” Hardwick chuckled. “The kids want to win. They put pressure on themselves. They want to tell other communities that they are the best. Besides, everybody likes to bring back a little hardware,” Hardwick added, noting trophies are awarded to the top three finishers in each race.

When he swam at USC, Hardwick earned his share of hardware. An All-America freestyler, he won WPIAL championships and many PIAA medals in state competitions. Because he also swam for the USC swim club since the age of 11, there was no room for competition such as Bower Hill provides in the summer months.

“With morning workouts and meets, there was no time, nor desire, to go to the local pool and hang out,” Hardwick noted sadly.

“Bower Hill is a different situation. A club like this helps you make friends and you can learn about a sport that you may or may not do but it’s something (swimming) that you can do in the summer and later in life.”

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