Ladies and Gentlemen, a round of applause for the Chatham High School Girls Swim Team!
If you haven’t heard the news yet, this past Saturday, February 23rd, the team brought home a State Championship after an intense meet against the Kinnelon Girls Team at The College of New Jersey. If you have been following us at all, the phrase “3-Peat” should be all over every form of social media. Why? Because this is our third state Championship in three years, our third undefeated season, our third time being utterly surprised by our own talent.
The day of the meet, we all arrived at the high school around 9:15 for a 9:30 bus. You can only imagine the nerves, yet standing in the lobby you would think everyone was preparing for a normal dual meet. Despite the worrying going on inside their heads, the swimmers are able to keep a cool and collected atmosphere. The mood on the drive down was very different than the screaming, laughing, and singing that normally takes place on a practice bus. In these high intensity meets, everyone gets into their own zone, mostly by listening to music, sometimes by stretching, but nine times out of ten, it’s in silence. Not a tense, awkward silence, but rather a calm absence of noise, besides some small, quiet chatter.
There was, however, clear pressure in the air. The stakes were pretty high. Seniors wanted to end on a high note for their final season, juniors and sophomores needed to maintain an incredible reputation of having never lost a meet, and freshman were nervously gunning for their first State Championship. With all this on the line, each individual felt they had a huge responsibility to succeed for the sake of the rest of the team. The irrational fear in each swimmer was not of losing, but rather of letting down their parents, their coaches, and of course their teammates. Yet that was impossible, because win or lose, there was nothing anyone could have done to make us more proud.
The crowd, as always, was electric. Parents, fellow students, teachers, and all other fans were arriving at least 30 minutes early, just so they could get good seats. Chatham had a fan bus for any students who did not want to drive down to TCNJ, and it was filled to the max. There was cheering rivalry between fans from both Chatham and Kinnelon before the meet had even started. People could tell it was going to get good. As expected, we were down at the break, but with incredibly high spirits. The 50 Freestyle was when we started to turn it around. Chatham took 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, winning the event 9 points to 7. The team was still down, and yet we were all smiles and laughs.
Everyone had a sense of déjà vu when the meet was tied going into the 500 Freestyle. Ironically, this is exactly what happened in the regular season dual meet against Kinnelon. In the pattern of history, the event was like magic. Regan Kology, who swims with such elegance, made it look like a piece of cake to swim 20 laps in 5 minutes and 1 second, taking first place. Abbie Fisher a known leader of the Kinnelon Swim Team took second. Chatham’s Nina Barrett took third qualifying for Meet of Champions with a wicked fast time. The thrill was the race for fourth. Jenni Allocco going into the last two laps was at least two body lengths behind the Kinnelon swimmer in the lane next to her. She made up her ground in the 19th lap, and making the final turn, Jenni and her competitor looked synchronized. Her last lap was the most memorable part of the meet. I’ve never heard such an energized crowd in my life, and when Jenni stole the touch-out to take fourth place, I’ve never seen a bigger smile on her face. That’s when everyone knew. The energy was unstoppable.
After Anna Dexheimer took first in the 100 Breaststroke, we had 85 points. Needing only 86 points to win a meet, we couldn’t lose. Coach D made the decision to put as many seniors as he could in the last relay, which made it all the more special for us. We couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the season.
The final tally came out to 91-79, the trophy was awarded to us and of course a few tears shed; with a team of over 40 teenage girls how can there not be. The rivals exchanged friendly remarks of “good job” and “congratulations” in the locker room, and we soon left TCNJ with hopeful aspirations of returning in 2014. En route back to Chatham, the bus was back to the loud rambunctious shouting; of course having Pitch Perfect on in the background didn’t really help. In my opinion, the coolest part of the day was returning to our hometown.
Exiting 24 to find two fire trucks and three police cars on Main Street ready to escort us back to our high school was truly awesome. We turned onto Lafayette Ave. and the horns started to blow. As we got closer, more and more people started to appear on the side of the street. When the High School came in to view, so did the crowd of fans standing in front of it. Our town welcomed us home, and we had made them proud by bringing home a third state championship.
Like all good things, our season had to come to an end. As a senior, I am so proud and grateful to have been a part of it. Some might be asking what comes next for the Girls Swim Team? We are losing ten seniors; can we make up for that loss? Could we really have a 4-Peat? I won’t be the one to jinx it, but I will say that anything is possible, and if I have faith in any team to completely shock me, it’s this one. I will start my search for a new blogger to write about the next season, so we can all continue to follow along. Until then, thanks for reading Chatham Patch! Go Cougars!
For more pictures please see the article "Three-Peat: Undefeated Chatham Girls Win Another State Title" by Terry Boudreau.