VERONA, NJ - Though only a sophomore, Kelly Nulty is a leader on the young Verona girls swimming team and is currently ranked second in her events as she heads into the Essex County Championships on Monday.  Nulty is the TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.

"Kelly Nulty is a sophomore who has stepped up to the challenge all season. She has finished first or second all season in her individual events and is currently ranked second at our County Championship," said Head Coach Jeremy Zak.  "I am always excited to see her race. She is a fierce competitor and enjoys racing against the clock and others. She is always optimistic and looking for ways to improve."

When Verona High School introduced competitive swimming for the first time last year, Nulty was excited to be part of building the program.  A competitive swimmer since the fourth grade and a member of the Caldwell Cyclones club team, was one of of the more experienced swimmers on the team and made an immediate impact.

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She has continued in that role as Verona girls swimming embarked on its second season -- a season in which she's seen vast improvement.

"We had more kids join this year, which is great.  There's definitely been a lot of improvement," Nulty said.  "We have a good team bond.  Everybody is really supportive of one another which helps us improve and be more successful."

As any new program would, Verona swimming has struggled as it competes against schools with bigger numbers and more experienced swimmers.  However, Nulty is happy about the increased interest at VHS and impressed that so many non-competitive swimmers have decided to give it a try.  

"Like last year, numbers are our biggest challenge when we go against bigger teams, and much of our team is made up of non-club team swimmers," Nulty explained.  "I really think that's amazing -- that they came out and are trying it and are learning the harder strokes."

What VHS girls swimming lacks in size, it makes up in team bonding.  Nulty said team bond is definitely the team's biggest strength.  

"We really are very supportive of each other.  Everyone wants everyone to do well and improve," Nulty said.  "I don't think we would have success if we didn't have the supportive bond."

Looking ahead Nutly is focused on the County Championships on Monday and hoping to make an impact there, while also looking forward to how VHS swimming develops in the coming years.

"We really have a special bond as a team," Nutly said.  "In the next few years we are only going to grow stronger."

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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