By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
When it comes to center lane swimmers, the Princeton High girls have as strong a group of four as any team in the state.
Led by Maddie Deardorff, Brianna Romaine, Melinda Tang and Abbey Berloco, Princeton rarely goes into a meet not thinking it will grad a majority of the first place finishes.
But in order to win the biggest meets at the end of the season the Little Tigers will need more than just those first-place finishes. And while the season is still early, it appears Princeton has a team as deep as it is talented.
“That’s something we talked about at the beginning of last year,” said Princeton coach Carly Misiewicz, whose team is 2-0 after wins over Trenton and West Windsor-Plainsboro South. “We knew we had a pretty good team but we also know we can’t just rely on our center lane swimmers. We talked about it again this year before the season.
“We set up an environment from Day One about getting back to where we were last year and there is no reason we can’t take it as far or further this year.”
Princeton won the Central Jersey A Division championship last year and reached the state finals before falling to Scotch Plains in the state final. The Little Tigers are off to a quick start this season and impressed with their depth in a 121-49 win over the Pirates.
“I am really excited about how the season has started,” said junior Maddie Schwimmer, who was part of the winning 200 freestyle relay against the Pirates. “The team is meshing well with the new freshmen and sophomores coming together. And it is not just as the girls team but the boys and girls are supporting each other and that makes for a great atmosphere on the team.”
Schwimmer is one of the swimmers the Little Tigers will count on to pick up valuable points from the outside lanes. She gained experience during last year’s successful season and brings plenty to the pool deck this year.
“In terms of the team my main goal it is to show some leadership in terms of the new freshmen and sophomores who aren’t used to the Princeton team,” she said. “I want to be supportive of others who have not been with the team and are learning what high school swimming is all about.
“You have to show them the ropes. It is about interacting and really welcoming them and answering questions and hanging out to create that team atmosphere. I felt very welcomed my freshman year and I want to continue that as one of the older swimmers. I don’t want anyone to feel unwelcome.”
The new swimmers are coming into a program that expects to be successful. The Little Tigers are not shy about saying they want to duplicate what they did last year and then hopefully take that next step forward.
“In the beg of the season we talked about some of our goals,” Schwimmer said. “We’re striving for an undefeated duel meet season like last year and also going counties and getting back to states and reclaiming our titles.”
Added Misiewicz: “The dual meets are important but we know in our minds that our final goals surround what we want to do at the end of the season.”
Schwimmer, who swims in the summer for the CP Bluefish, also swims during the offseason for the Lawrence Stingrays. Once the high school season starts, however, she is only in the pool for the Little Tigers, where she is happy to be part of such a successful program for both the girls and boys.
“In the past, like when I was a freshman, it was always the boys team who got a lot of the recognition with their wins, which they should because they were amazing,” said Schwimmer, who usually swims the 200 free and 100 butterfly for the Little Tigers. “It’s nice for the girls team that last year we showed how good we can be. It is nice to be a part of such an exciting team.
“I think have a good balance with the club swimmers. They aren’t there every practice but they are there for the meetings and meets and the bonding that we do with the new people. It creates strong relationships.”
Having the depth that swimmers like Schwimmer provide is what helps make the difference between a good team and a very good team. And to be successful you need to have a deep roster.
“Maddie really stepped up as a sophomore in the 200 free and 100 fly,” Misiewicz said. “She had a good season last year and we’re looking forward to her having another good season this year.”
The Little Tigers, who were scheduled to face WW-P North on Thursday, will face a key test against Notre Dame next Thursday and will face Lawrence and Hopewell in January in key meets.
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor