The number of swimmers since Hess began has doubled to about 45 swimmers. More importantly, the expectations and subsequent success have doubled as well, leading to unparalleled success.
This season, both the girls and boys programs established themselves as top tier programs in southern New Jersey. For the boys, they had a regular season record of 6-2, and they qualified for the NJSIAA postseason tournament for the first time in recent memory.
For the girls, this season marked their first winning record in program history (4-3 in the regular season). Also the girls not only made the NJSIAA tournament themselves, but they also won their first round matchup with a very good Toms River South program, 90-80.
Led by seniors Alaina Boerlin, Sam Capalbo, Maddie Halota, Emily Myers, and Laura Myers, this marks the farthest that the girls ever have gone into the playoffs. Keep in mind that the program switched from being coed to being distinct boys and girls programs in 2002-03.
Individually, there were some major highlights as well. Returning star sophomore Sydney Jaramillo won the Gloucester County championship in the 100 butterfly as well as the Tri-County Conference championship in the 100 butterfly. Newcomer Marissa Heino also garnered a championship at the Gloucester County Championships in the 100 backstroke. The 200 freestyle team of Sydney Jaramillo, Sam Armano, Laura Myers, and Christina Hess won at the Tri-County Championships as well.
“Looking back on it, I was quite happy with what we did,” said Hess. “I set the bar high but accomplishable. They surpassed my expectations.
“The boys used scrappiness and their depth to win meets. They did well because they all showed up when the bright lights were on. They had their best efforts on the same day. The girls did that as well, especially during the playoffs.”
As for the future, it looks pretty bright as well. The girls return many top flight competitors, while the boys had no seniors this season and return everyone.
So what led to the program’s change?
Hess notes the change in work ethic, programming, depth in numbers, and a commitment to year-round swimming as some of the reasons. However, more than anything, it has been a shift in overall program mindset.
“Our expectations and goals are completely different than they were three years ago,” said Hess. “We now expect to make the playoffs and win. That wasn’t there years ago.”
“Our expectations moving forward are to continue to make playoffs annually and continue to take steps closer towards winning a championship,” Hess continued.
”We want to continue to close the gap between us and the other perennial powers. With continued hard work, it’s within our grasp. The bar has been set higher now.”