The Peachwood Pirates swim team, which operates out of the Peachwood Recreation Club in Logan and competes in the American Division of the Suburban Swim Association of South Jersey, has been a mainstay in the community for years, providing a competitive outlet for swimmers young and old.
Under the watchful eye of third year Head Coach Caitlin Hess, this program has taken major steps forward in the association. The culminating achievement for the team this season was their first division championship in recent memory.
A former high school swimming star at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Newfield and the current head swimming coach at Kingsway High School, Hess has changed the expectations of the Pirates. She has filled her staff with youthful knowledge and enthusiasm.
Her assistants this season were second year coaches David Dominik and Jimmy Amorebella, both Peachwood alumni. They also brought in a new face in Breaghann Smith, who swam collegiately at Cabrini College.
Collectively, this staff got their charges to defeat Hammonton (421-137), Gloucester City (355-208), and Kandle Lake (391-173) to clinch the American Division. In a crossover battle with Elmer, who competes in the upper National Division, the Pirates also were able to win (301-265). They ended up losing another cross divisional meet with Haddon Township, the National Division champion, to compile a record of 4-1.
Individually, Peachwood athletes also made their presence known at major meets. At the Peach Bowl, which essentially acts as the Gloucester County championship meet, the Pirates had four individual winners while winning one relay. At the Suburban Association Championships, which features the teams in the larger two divisions as well as the American Division, they also had an event winner.
So how has the culture changed?
“As the Kingsway swim coach, I continue to strive to be a presence in the local swimming community,” said Hess. “We now have the expectation that we will be competitive with the top program in our association. Because of this expectation, our athletes are starting to swim year round, which is what athletes in the other top programs do. We simply are putting in the work and getting returns on this work.”
“We strive to make our athletes successful in multiple strokes,” said Hess. “This allows us to be more flexible in our lineup. This has resulted in us being a tough matchup for other teams.”
Winning the division title will bring on new challenges. As the American Division champion, they will be put into the more difficult National Division next year.
“While this will be a great challenge for us, I think we will be up to the task,” said Hess. “This is what we have worked for, and this is where we want to be. We are excited about our future.”