The Upper Arlington High School girls swimming and diving team returns several key members from last season when it won its seventh consecutive Division I state championship.

The Upper Arlington High School girls swimming and diving team returns several key members from last season when it won its seventh consecutive Division I state championship.

However, ninth-year coach Dan Peterkoski said the swimmers and divers who currently are under the radar could determine how successful the Golden Bears are going to be this season.

"It takes depth a lot to win a state championship," said Peterkoski, whose team opens Saturday, Dec. 3, at defending Division II state champion Gates Mills Hawken before competing in the Solon Relays later that day. "If we don't have that depth coming from the sophomores and juniors, it's going to be a rough road."

After winning the OCC-Central Division, sectional and district titles, UA closed last season by scoring 286 points in the state meet at Branin Natatorium in Canton to finish ahead of runner-up Cincinnati Ursuline Academy (212).

UA lost two state qualifiers from a year ago to graduation in Abby Chin and Kayla Hammerberg. Chin was part of four state titles, winning the 200-yard freestyle (program-record 1 minute, 49.38 seconds) and 500 free (program-record 4:48.93) and teaming with senior Gabby Veri, Hammerberg and senior Lauren Comer to win the 200 free relay (state-record 1:34.12) and 400 free relay (3:26.71). Hammerberg was third in the 100 free (51.69) and fourth in the 50 free (23.48).

However, the Bears return nine state qualifiers from last season, including Comer, Veri and seniors Jessica Miller and Claire Van Fossen. Comer finished sixth in the 200 individual medley (2:06.24) and seventh in the 100 backstroke (57.78), Miller finished eighth in the 200 free (1:54.93) and 21st in the 500 free (5:10.96), Van Fossen was second in the 100 butterfly (56.69) and Veri was sixth in the 100 free (51.95) and eighth in the 50 free (23.92).

Miller and Van Fossen also teamed with sophomore Betsy Trace and senior Beth Long to finish fourth in the 200 medley relay (1:46.83).

Swimming in an individual event in a state final for the first time was an exhilarating, yet terrifying moment for Van Fossen.

"I was trying to act like I knew what I was doing, but I was shaking so hard," she said. "I swam the best that I could and I surprised myself."

UA's sophomore class includes four swimmers who qualified for state last season in Trace, Sarah Mamo, Jenny Smith and Elizabeth Weldon. Mamo finished 24th in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.16), Smith finished 10th in the 200 IM (2:07.93) and 11th in the 500 free (5:08.56), Trace finished 14th in the 100 back (58.59) and Weldon finished 12th in the 500 free (5:07.14) and 19th in the 200 free (1:56.46).

The Bears' diving corps consists of senior Mary Piscopo, junior Madeline Paskell and freshmen Rachel Piscopo, Haley Plahuta and Danielle Rehl.

UA scored 433 points in the OCC-Central meet last season to finish well ahead of runner-up Thomas Worthington (252) as well as Dublin Coffman (171), Hilliard Davidson (159), Central Crossing (72), Worthington Kilbourne (61) and Hilliard Darby (50).

UA scored 416 points in its sectional meet to finish well ahead of runner-up Watterson (212) and scored 505 points at district to finish well ahead of runner-up Watterson (240) and capture its 12th consecutive title.

"I keep reminding the freshmen who haven't been through this before that it is worth it," Van Fossen said. "They haven't been through the taper season and they don't understand what it feels like to have all that work pay off in the end."