Kittatinny swimmers make great waves this season

| 27 Feb 2019 | 11:28

    By Laurie Gordon
    NEWTON - Both the Kittatinny High School boys’ and girls’ teams had stellar seasons, despite being on the small size. Competing against much larger teams is a disadvantage, but despite that, they both managed to finish 5-2 behind powerhouses Pope John and the combined Newton/Lenape Valley teams.
    “Our boys even finished second at Sussex County Championships, with our girls a respectable fourth, and both qualified into the NJSIAA State Tournament,” said George Soutter, a Visual Arts Instructor at Kittatinny and the Head Swim Coach
    He added, “Individually, they did amazing. Throughout the season they set 10 new school records, have four girls and four boys qualifying for the Meet of Champions (MOC)--the largest number in school history- heading to MOCs at Gloucester Institute of Technology next weekend ), and so much more.”
    Jake Riva was named one of the Top Junior Swimmers in the state by The team set two new county records at the Sussex County Championships. Jake Riva broke the 100 Free record previously held since 2004 by the late Ryan Olsen of Vernon, and the Girls 400 Free Relay (Jordan Maruska, Alyssa Amorim, Hannah Calderon, Sam Russell) also set a new county time.
    Coach Soutter said, “Our training is rather unique from most teams in the league. First, I am blessed with a great assistant coach in Brittany Zymet; the kids and I are lucky to have her. We have our allotted hour of daily pool time that most teams have, but we follow it up with an extensive dry-land program. Every day following our wet-time our swimmers switch into their workout clothes and hit either the weight room or the mats for an hour of additional training. This combination of strength and core training with our work in the pool has resulted in fewer injuries, a higher degree of fitness, and has yielded great results.”
    He said, “While much of our success comes from the efforts of our top scorers Riva, Russell, Maruska, Sharma, Calderon, Amorim, Ruddy who owe much of their success to their training with us and their club team the North Jersey Barracudas, equally as impressive to me is the improvement and contributions of our other athletes who continue to improve through their own hard work and determination. It’s this combination that makes our little team so potent. It doesn’t hurt that they’re all wonderful kids, too.”
    Sophomore Josh Langley, “I think one of the things that sets our training apart from that of other schools is the experience and passion that Coaches Soutter and Zymet have for the sport. The fact that Coach Soutter expects full commitment from each swimmer really pushes the team to do their best both in and out of the water..”
    Langley added that having their own pool to practice in also helps, along with being able to have pool time and dry-land practices 6 days a week. His favorite drills to do during practice are 500 yard freestyle repeats, 200 timed repeats and Texas 50 repeats.
    Said Bridget O'Keefe, a Junior at Kittatinny, “The training at Kittatinny is set apart fro other schools by the attitude of the coaches. They are so supportive, positive and dedicated to having the team reach its full potential. They work until the meet lineup is perfected.”
    O'Keefe said that the team practice schedule ensures “maximum improvement and success.” Her favorite drill is called “the snake.” Each lane is assigned a different stroke and the swimmers switch strokes as they get to each lane making their way from lane one to lane six through all the strokes.
    '“It's different from a lot of the other drills we do because it includes getting out of the pool and doing a dry land drill (like push ups or sit ups) and then diving back in and doing it again,” she said.
    O'Keefe's proudest accomplishment as a Kittatinny swimmer is the team making it to States this year.
    “Even though we didn't win, I am so proud of how hard everyone tried,” she said. “Everyone put in 110 percent.”
    New Kittatinny Regional High School Records this season include:Jake Riva (100 Fly, 50 Free, 100 Free), Jordan Maruska (100 Free, 500 Free), Samantha Russell (100 Free, 100 Fly), Girls 200 & 400 Free Relays, and the Boys 200 Free Relay.