At the sound of a beep, smooth bodies gracefully dive into the pool. Capped heads bob rhythmically as the swimmers glide through the water during the 400-yard freestyle relay. The sound of cheers resonates through the room as the fastest swimmer touches the wall, ending the race. Shivering girls shout and yell in delight as the announcer confirms that the 2012–2013 Princeton High School girls swim team has won the meet and is on its way to the sectional finals.
There, the team’s winning streak ended. Still, with a record of 13–1, last year’s girls swim team was the most successful team in PHS history. The girls won the Mercer County Tournament and made it far in the state tournament, losing only in sectional finals. However, with two graduating club swimmers, Serena Deardorff ’13 and Marisa Giglio ’13, everyone wondered what the 2013–2014 season would bring. Exceeding expectations, this year’s team is composed of 40 girls, with veterans and new members alike.
According to Head Coach Greg Hand, “based on the first meet … [the team] seem[s] to be as strong as [it was] last year.”
“Even though we lost two really fast swimmers, [Deardoff and Giglio], we gained a whole lot of new swimmers, so that adds a lot of depth and experience to the team,” said Co-Captain Kelsey Schwimmer ’14.
Of the 40 who joined the team this season, several are experienced freshmen. They have been swimming on club teams for years and aspire to make as great of a contribution as possible.
“I would really just like to go to states as a freshman. An experience like that would be amazing,” said Maddie Whaley ’17. Whaley has been a part of the Peddie Aquatic Association swim club for the past five years, bringing hundreds of hours of pool experience to the team.
The team’s goal is to make it through states once again and win the state championship. While this places strain on team members, the freshmen are ready to step it up.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure because we’re not focused so much on individuals but more on the team,” said Jamie Liu ’17.
Not only do the freshmen add a layer of talent, but according to Schwimmer, their boundless energy is creating a new team environment. “The new freshmen are bringing more enthusiasm and spirit to the team and we are all really enjoying getting to know them,” she said.
With the new swimmers also comes the need for more team bonding. “All the freshmen are getting really into the psychs … it brings us closer and helps with team bonding,” said Liu.
“Only time will tell the impact [the new freshmen] will make,” said Hand. “But we are very pleased with how they are doing—there is a lot of talent there.”