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Boys swimming: Gunnar Zemering aims for another banner season

Defending state champion enjoys additional role as team leader

— Before Friday's home meet against Shenendehowa, Bethlehem unveiled a new banner recognizing its three state swimming champions -- Ken Neff, Elyse McDonough and Gunnar Zemering.

The honor took Zemering by surprise.

"I didn't know they were going to do that," said Zemering. "It's pretty cool. It's a small banner, so hopefully it will fill up quickly."

"It's something the team decided to do," said Bethlehem coach Bill Dergosits. "You know, they only crown nine (individual) state champions a year. So, it's a good thing to have."

Zemering -- who won the 50-yard freestyle championship last season -- aims to add to the banner himself at the 2014 state meet in March. If he does, he will become only the second swimmer in Bethlehem history to win multiple state titles. McDonough earned three state titles between 1998 and 1999.

"We haven't decided yet (which events to swim at Sectionals and states) because I'd like to get the record in the 200 freestyle," said Zemering.

Zemering is already rounding into form. He recorded Bethlehem pool-record times in the 50 freestyle (21.34 seconds) and the 100 freestyle this season (47.58 seconds), and he has the second-fastest times in Section II this season in the 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke.

"He's swimming very well," said Dergosits. "We're looking to get another pool record later in the month."

Beyond his individual success, Zemering is helping mentor the rest of the Bethlehem swim team -- a squad that features five sophomores, eight freshmen and three eighth graders on its 29-man roster.

"I try to help out as much as I can," said Zemering. "What I've noticed this year is we have a lot of depth. We have more swimmers who can do things."

"We've got a lot of up-and-comers," said Dergosits. "I think (sophomore) Alex Taber and (freshman) Connor Doyle are two kids who you'll be having conversations about in the years to come. And, we have a great diving corps. We have five phenomenal divers (including junior Greg Ingraham and freshman Chris Redmond)."

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