Jackson boys prepping for SC swim meet this weekend

BY MIKE WHITE Staff Writer

The Jackson High School boys swim team finished in ninth place last year at the season-ending Shore Conference Championship meet. Considering the level of competition at the contest, Jaguars coach John Pelano felt his team put forth a respectable showing.

Coming off what Pelano called “an impressive showing where we lowered a lot of personal times” at the Ocean County meet recently, he feels his squad is prepared to square off against the elite competition in one of themost demanding conference championships statewide. Pelano is hopeful to better last year’s effort.

“This is always a difficult meet,” said Pelano, whose team will compete at the Shore Conference Championship meet Feb. 9 at the YMCA in Toms River. “You have a lot of great swimmers and programs competing in this event. Our guys have been working hard, and we continue to drop times. We going to approach this event with a positive attitude and try to give our best performances of the season.”

At the Ocean County Championships, Connor Murphy, who has been one of Jackson’s best swimmers for the past several years, finished with a pair of secondplace finishes.

Murphy posted a time of 1:53.66 to take runner-up in the 200-yard freestyle event. In addition, he placed second in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 56.67. Pelano praised the efforts.

“He’s been having another solid year for us,” Pelano said. “Both of those times are close to his personal bests. There is no question he is one of the leaders on this squad. He has been working extremely hard. He is looking forward to competing at the Shore Conference meet.”

The 400-free relay team finished in fourth place. The quartet of Jason Leonard, Alex Carpenter, Alex Miller and Murphy combined for a time of 3:35.41.

“That was a strong showing for us,” Pelano said. “We feel that group can even go a bit faster. We’re hoping to lower that time over the course of the next couple of weeks.”

Jackson had a number of other swimmers who posted personal-best times at the Ocean County meet.

Miller had top times in both the 200 individual medley and the 500 freestyle. Miller posted a time of 2:22.58 in the IM and then later returned to shave 11 seconds off his time in the 500 free.Miller finished the event with an impressive showing of 5:44.35, Pelano said.

“To take that much time off an event is incredible,” Pelano said. “He has worked really hard in improving his strokemechanics. He was able to drop thatmuch time because of his dedication to the event.”

Carpenter had personal bests in both the 200 free and the 100 butterfly. Carpenter swamthe freestyle event in a time of 2:06.31. His time of 1:04.09was by the far the fastest he’d done in the butterfly all season.

Leonard posted a personal-best time of 2:00.53 in the 200 free. Pelano feels he might be able to drop that time even more over the course of the next couple of meets.

Mark Raimondo swam a pair of personal best times. He posted a 25.16 in the 50 free and later finished the 100 free with a time of 56.89.

“All his hard work is paying off,” Pelano said. “I’m real pleased with the work he has put in. He gives us his best effort each time he gets in the pool. As a coach, that is what you are looking for from your swimmers.”