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Piranhas in the News

From theater stage to pool, Males shines for Wagner

For the Pocono Record
February 01, 2006

Junior Amanda Males of East Stroudsburg is swimming and singing her way through college. In and out of the water, Males is a major performer for the Wagner College athletic program. Athletically, the former Cavalier swimmer performs in the pool as the top sprint breaststroker on the Seahawks' team.

Musically, she performs at swimming meets and some basketball and football games singing the Star Spangled Banner before home events.

"She has the most beautiful singing voice I've ever heard," said Sean Raffile, Wagner's new women's swimming coach. "At the first home dual meet against Vermont, I literally got goose bumps when I heard her sing; she was that good."

Males' singing ability has delighted audiences in the Poconos for many years. She was active on stage at East Stroudsburg South High School, performing the lead in the play "Annie Get Your Gun" when she was a senior. She also performed in numerous Pocono Lively Arts productions.

She decided to enroll at Wagner because of its strong theater program. She had a music scholarship as a freshman.

Then her other love, swimming, took over.

"I talked to the coach at the time Katie Dolan and asked if I could come out for the swimming team," said Males. "I was going to swim for free as a walk-on. She said she wanted me."

Males had a long swimming background. She started competing as a youngster for clubs around her hometown of New Milford, N.J.

Her parents, Jeff and Linda Males, moved to the Poconos when Amanda was nine years old and immediately signed her up for the YMCA swimming program.

"I swam at the 'Y' for Mike Wolbert who is a great coach," said Males. "He helped me so much and got me into swimming competitively. Then I was on the team at East Stroudsburg South for four years for another coach, Adam Coffman, who really pushed me and helped me succeed."

Males was a member of Cavalier 200-yard medley and freestyle relay teams which won PIAA District 11 titles in record-breaking times and qualified for the states. She broke school records in the 200 freestyle and 100 breaststroke.

In her first year on the Division I Wagner team, Males competed mainly in distance freestyle and some backstroke events. She swam well enough that at the end of the season, Dolan offered her scholarship money for the following season.

"I decided to take the swimming scholarship and give up the music scholarship. I changed my major to English," she said. "I wanted to keep up the music so I've done some student-run productions. The school choir was too much to handle, however."

Males' swimming suffered a setback last year when she suffered a labral tear of her left shoulder and had to have surgery. She went through rehabilitation all summer while at the same time life guarding for the sixth straight year at the Dansbury Park pool.

She came back to campus in the fall and the Seahawks had a new coach, Raffile, and she had a new event.

"I saw her on the second or third day of practice, she was doing a couple of lengths in the breaststroke," said Raffile. "I was a breaststroker in college six-time All-America at Southern Connecticut and I thought she had some talent."

Raffile inserted Males into the lineup as a breaststroker. Her main event now is the 100 breast and she also swims a leg on the Seahawks' 400-yard medley relay team.

"I've cut four seconds off my time in the 100 since high school," said Males. "I've gone 1:10.3 which is really surprising because I hadn't done the event for so long. My goals are to make the top eight in the NEC Championships Feb. 16-18 in Landover, Md. and break the college record which is 1:08.65 before I graduate."

Raffile thinks that the 21-year-old swimmer has a chance to reach both her goals.

"She is putting it all together," he said. "After she had the shoulder surgery, there was some question if she would ever swim again. Her performance speaks volumes for her perseverance, discipline and desire to contribute to the team as a high level.

"Amanda's an awesome kid. She's a Dean's List student and a pleasure to have on the team. Having her around or hearing her perform the National Anthem brings a smile to the faces of my assistants and me," he continued.

Raffile admittedly can't stop singing the praises of his junior from East Stroudsburg who is swimming and singing her way through college.



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