SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- Imagine swimming since you were eight years old, training for hours on end every single day in the pool, and finding a perfect college match with the major and environment you want, only to be told that you couldn’t go there and that you aren’t good enough.

That’s the story of Aubrey Marish, a South Plainfield High School senior and Scarlet Aquatics member.

Marish wanted to continue swimming competitively in college and fell in love with everything about Stony Brook University on Long Island, but was told when she first contacted Seawolves coach Janelle Atkinson, a two-time Olympian for Jamaica, that she wasn’t quite what they were looking for as a Division I program.

Sign Up for E-News

In simpler terms, she wasn’t fast enough, yet.

But instead of putting her head down, she went to work. She got the pool and displayed a drive that saw her decrease her times she needed to get in.

“Stony Brook was her first choice school. It’s Division I. ...They were looking for very fast swimmers and Aubrey did not have the times she needed,” said Stacie Marish, Aubrey’s mother. “Instead of being discouraged, during the summer (of 2016), she worked her butt off even more and (over the past year) she became fast enough to swim at Stony Brook. She contacted the coach again and said ‘Hey coach am I fast enough now?’. The coach got back and said, ‘Yeah, you are! Come up, I want to meet you’.

“So, hard work and determination pays off. And these were the coach’s words, ‘The most incredible thing was that you did not get discouraged and you went to work and made it happen’. If you’re a coach and see that type of person who has that kind of drive you know they’re going to achieve their goals.”

On Wednesday, Aubrey Marish put ink to paper and signed her National Letter of Intent to officially become a Stony Brook Seawolf.

“It’s almost like a release or relief. I can finally relax,” Marish said.

“I am beyond fired up to be joining the Seawolves and to have the opportunity to leave my mark creating this new legacy,” she added in a statement.

Stony Brook, which is home to over 24,000 students, is “a cultural hub” according to Marish. It’s a major reason why it was her top choice.

“I really enjoyed Stony Brook’s diversity and it was definitely a big factor in my decision,” Marish said. “It also kind of ties in with the diversity, but I want to major in Linguistics and follow a cultural study, maybe an Asian study, something along those lines. And with Stony Brook, because it’s like a cultural hub, they have a lot of opportunities for those majors and other languages and study abroad programs.

“I actually learned about the school from my best friend’s parents who both went there. They told me I’ll love it and when I actually looked into it and I was like, ‘Oh, these are all the things I’m interested in’. I just kept digging deeper and finding more and more things that I loved about it. I knew I had to go there.

“...Their swim team is at about the same level as the team I currently train on so I didn’t want step down my training. I wanted to get better. So, Stony Brook gave me that opportunity.

What makes things even more interesting is the fast that Stony Brook’s women’s swimming team was on a five year hiatus, and was just reinstated this fall. According to the Stony Brook athletics website, a brand new pool and facility was built.

“The Seawolves' swimming and diving program was placed on competitive hiatus in 2012-13 following the announcement of a multi-million dollar critical maintenance renovation to University Pool. The renovations began in January of 2015 when the existing pool was completely demolished, including the removal of the existing pool deck level.

“The revitalized pool has a maximum depth of 13 feet and will feature a state-of- the-art movable floor in the shallow end. Two one-meter diving boards and one three-meter diving board will be installed at the west end of the pool. The mechanical system has been completely replaced with modern equipment that will be fully automated and will include remote monitoring to aid in pool maintenance. The HVAC system has been updated with multi-season climate control and a dehumidification system.

“At the mezzanine level, the wooden bleachers are being replaced with new bleachers that will maximize seating capacity as well as meet ADA compliance. A glass rail system with stainless steel trim will also be installed along with all new lighting.”

Understandably, Stony Brook is 0-4 so far this season with just a few swimmers on the roster. Once depth and talent arrives, including Marish, things will get better.

“It’s a new pioneer program,” Stacie Marish said. “She’s going to be apart of bringing the new swim team back up. That was a selling point. ...Next year will really be the first full team back.”

Marish is also a member of The National Honor Society and a recipient of the prestigious Girls Scout Gold Award. She spent her first two years swimming for SPHS and was named Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the team as a freshman. Marish was also a top finisher both years at the Greater Middlesex Conference meets.

At Scarlet Aquatics, she was a top finisher in the 400-meter freestyle LCM (Long Course Meters) and 200-meter fly LCM at the 2017 NJ Junior Olympic State Championships. Marish was also a finalist in the 800-meter freestyle LCM and 1,500-meter freestyle LCM at the 201 Southern Zone Sectionals.

Marish’s top LCM times are:

4:30.41 in the 400-meter freestyle

9:21.43 in the 800-meter freestyle

17:56.84 in the 1,500-meter freestyle

2:27.26 in the 200-meter fly