Several local swimmers are rising to the top of the sport in the country.
Nine members of the Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront YMCA Tigershark swim team finished the 2011-12 season ranked in the top 10 for their age among all YMCA swimmers nationwide in individual events or relays.
The nationally recognized swimmers for individual events include: Andrew Appleby, 17, of Silver Lake; Giovanna Cappabianca, 11, of Stow; Vittorio Cappabianca, 8, of Stow; Lauren Heller, 14, of Stow; and Braden Nold, 13, of Cuyahoga Falls.
Nold joined teammates Jack Kramer, 12, of Cuyahoga Falls and twins Andrew and Richie Kurlich, 12, of Kent to rank ninth among all YMCA swim teams in the 11-12 boys 200-yard medley relay with a time of 2:00.93.
Richie Kurlich, Nold, Kramer and Michael Heller, 12, of Stow also had the nation's ninth-fastest time in the 11-12 boys 200-yard freestyle relay (1:47.10).
"We're very proud of our accomplishments last year and hope we can duplicate or even do better this year," Tigersharks head coach Dale Craddock said during a recognition ceremony before a recent swim meet at the Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium.
Appleby finished the previous season third among all 16-year-old YMCA male swimmers in the 100-yard backstroke, with a time of 50.26 seconds. He also ranked third in the 50 freestyle (21.19), fourth in the 100 freestyle (46.37) and sixth in the 200 backstroke (1:50.89).
Appleby, a senior at Cuyahoga Falls High School and a two-time state qualifier, recently accepted a scholarship offer to swim at Ohio State University next year.
The Cappabiancas made quite a splash last season, each earning spots among the 10 fastest swimmers nationwide in their age groups.
Giovanna was the fastest 10-year-old YMCA female swimmer in the 50, 100 and 200 breaststroke events and the 200 butterfly. She also ranked second in the 100 individual medley and 200 backstroke; and third in the 200 freestyle, 200 IM and 500 freestyle. Her other top 10 rankings were in the 50 and 100 butterfly; 50 and 100 freestyle; and 100 backstroke.
In addition, she finished the season ranked fourth in her age group by USA Swimming in the 50 breaststroke and eighth in the 200 breaststroke.
Her brother, Vittorio, had the 10th best time in the country among 8-and-under boys YMCA swimmers in the 100 butterfly.
Heller had another outstanding season, ranking second in the nation in the 200 freestyle and 50 freestyle as a 13-year-old and second in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle events as a 14-year-old.
Heller also finished the 2011-12 season with the fourth fastest time among all 13-year-old female YMCA swimmers in the 100 freestyle and 500 freestyle, fifth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly. In addition, she was ranked eighth as a 14-year-old in the 100 backstroke.
USA Swimming ranked Heller third in her age group in the 50 freestyle, fourth in the 200 freestyle and eighth in the 100 freestyle.
Nold continued to excel in the backstroke, finishing the season with the third-fastest time among 12-year-old YMCA male swimmers in the 50-yard event with a time of 27.72 seconds.