BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Let's set the stage -- No. 5 seed Gov. Livingston boys swim team were in a tight battle against No. 4 seed Rumson in the quarterfinal round of the NJSIAA Central Group C Championships last week -- and every single point was essential in the 88-82 GL victory. It came down to the last relay of the meet when the 400 free relay team, led off by Jimmy Pitingolo, Ellis Sartorio, Dylan Wallace and Duytum Vu, took first place to secure the team victory to advance to the semifinals.

Pitingolo, as the lead off swimmer in the 400 free relay, set the tone needed to cap off the meet with this "epic relay win" to guarantee the team win, according to Gov. Livingston head coach David Closs. 

Not only was Pitingolo part of this "epic relay win", he also took a first place finish in the 200 free relay, third place in the 100 free, and earned points in the 200 individual free. For his contribution to this epic win over Rumson to advance to the semifinals, Jimmy Pitingolo has been named as Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week.

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"In many ways, his 100 free third-place finish was the most important swim of the meet," said Closs. "In a meet like that against Rumson, every point counts. He set a personal best in his swim, breaking 52 seconds for the first time in his career. He got third place points in an event where I didn't think we would get them, and he did this as a purely high school swimmer competing against kids who swim 12 months of the year."

He added, "As a coach, I take great pride in the accomplishments of our high school only swimmers who are just as good as many of the year round club swimmers and Jimmy is a great example of that."

Pitingolo came into his senior year as a physically stronger swimmer and his practice habits have been outstanding, said Closs. As senior swim captain, "he is a vocal leader who takes pride in being a Highlander swimmer."

"He has been a joy to have on the team these past four years along with his senior sister Grace, who is on the girls team, and his senior brother Louis, who has been our stalwart manager these past four years. The whole Pitingolo clan will be tough to replace," said Closs.

As a scholar athlete, Pitingolo juggles his busy swim schedule with a vigorous academic load and calendar of extracurricular activities. He has been recognized with academic excellence honors as a National Merit Scholar finalist and he is in the National Honor Society. He has placed two years in a row at the National TSA TEAMS Engineering contest and received an honorable mention in Moody’s Mega Math Challenge. He is the Student Council Executive President and he has been the Board of Education Student Representative his junior and senior year. He also has had a role in seven school theatrical productions, including the upcoming musical "Peter Pan." 

Gov. Livingston provides diverse opportunities for student involvement, and Pitingolo has taken full advantage of these offerings and has enjoyed the many different friendships he has made along the way.

"I really like the diversity of opportunity at GL. I can be a part of so many different groups and clubs, whether it’s academics, leadership, athletics, or the arts," said Pitingolo.

Below are comments from Jimmy regarding his past, present and future: 

TAPinto: Have you reached your personal goals with swimming?
Jimmy: Ever since I stopped swimming club, my goal was to keep improving my times and help the team; this year I was really able to crush my old times even from when I swam year-round competitively.

TAPinto: What were your team's expectations going into the State Tournament?
Jimmy: We definitely lost a large portion of our team as graduating seniors last year, so I went into states just hoping we would swim better each meet than we had all season, and we ended up making it to Sectional Semifinals which was an awesome accomplishment for the team.

TAPinto: Did you change your training going into your senior year and throughout the season?
Jimmy: I began focusing a lot more on out-of-the-water stuff like nutrition, rest, and lifting and I really noticed an improvement in my performance at swim practice and then at meets.

TAPinto: What is your most memorable accomplishment with the swim team to date?
Jimmy: Being a part of the first ever sectional championship team last year was a great experience because we really got to push ourselves to the limit and challenge ourselves in the championship season. That victory was by far the most exciting, and one of the most worked-for victories I’ve experienced with GL swimming.

TAPinto: How do you manage your time between your academics, extracurricular activities and training?
Jimmy: I make sure I have time to relax so I’m focused when I need to be, and I try and communicate as much as possible so I don’t have to worry about being in multiple places at once or overextending myself.

TAPinto: With such diversified involvement at GL, do you have a favorite role at Gov. Livingston?
Jimmy: I don’t think I could pick a favorite activity at GL because I love different aspects of all of them, but in general I really like how I’ve become friends with so many different groups of people.

TAPinto: What kept you driven throughout your high school career?
Jimmy: Throughout the year, I’m constantly busy which carries a lot of stress, but I remind myself that I’m making the most out of my time and my high school experience, so as long as I’m doing what I love, it’s worth putting in the energy. And of course my parents supporting (and nagging) me.

TAPinto: What will you miss most when you graduate?
Jimmy: I really like doing the announcements in the morning, because I get to choose a song start everyone’s day and get stuck in everyone’s head.

TAPinto: Where will you attend college in the fall and what will you study?
Jimmy: I will be going to Johns Hopkins University in the fall and will be studying biomedical engineering.

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Delicious Heights Highlander Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Delicious Heights, a family restaurant with three locations; Berkeley Heights, Bedminster and Basking Ridge, where it is part of the Basking Ridge County Club operating a public restaurant with outdoor dining, and acting as the banquet caterer, boasting a facility with panoramic views of the sprawling golf course. Visit our website, www.deliciousheights.com for weekly specials including Happy Hour specials from 3-6pm and daily featured dinner and lunch specials. Delicious Heights....where our only limitations are yours!

Delicious Heights is located at 428 Springfield Avenue in Berkeley Heights. 908.464.3287; 285 Main Street in Bedminster. 908.234.1596; 185 Madisonville Road in Basking Ridge. 908.766.9499.