BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Bridgewater-Raritan High School undefeated girls swim team is heading to the state finals at The College of New Jersey Saturday, with the hope of taking home the team's third-in-a-row championship win.
BRHS, currently ranked No. 1 in the state by nj.com, will play third seeded Cherry Hill East in the finals.
"It's been a bit surreal to think that just a few years ago, we didn't even make it to sectional finals, and now we're competing in our fourth straight state finals, aiming for our third consecutive state title," said coach Christopher Levin. "To have a chance to maintain our number one ranking in the state and win a third straight title is an absolute testament to the 43 girls on our team, and how hard they work day in and day out."
"The dedication they have shown to the B-R team and each other is unparalleled," he added.
The BRHS team is 12-0 on the season, and defeated Hillsborough, 105-65, in the semifinals of the NJSIAA Public A Tournament Tuesday.
Taking first place wins in the semifinals were Sarah Pacelli in the 50 freestyle, Hannah Lesser in the 100 butterfly, Megan Wojnar in the 500 freestyle, Katie Cooper in the 100 breastroke and the 200 medley relay team of Corina Do, Alexas Pappas, Meredith Riegler and Jackie Ruhnke.
As the team prepares for the finals Saturday, Levin said, he is continuing with the mantra of "swim smart, swim with your heart."
"Having coached the girls team now for seven years, I have no doubt in my mind that our girls are focused and ready, both mentally and physically, for Saturday," he said. "What I want them to do for any meet is choose one or two they need to remember for their race, but after that, enjoy the moment, enjoy the experience, feed off the energy of the state finals, swim for each other and just race."
Throughout the season, Levin said, highlights for him are the out-of-the-water activities, and team building work they have done along the way.
"Moments such as karaoke on our bus ride down to our state semifinal meet, or some of the team-building activities we've done this year outside the pool have been some of the most enjoyable moments," he said.
Of course the meets have been great, Levin said, with memorable wins over Immaculate Heart Academy and the win at the county championships.
"It's been a dream come true having the opportunity to coach such a talented, caring and passionate group," he said. "The girls do such an incredible job both in and out of the water to make this better, and I couldn't be happier with their dedication to the team and each other."