Marlee Canale is the kind of student-athlete that any coach would be happy to have on their team.
The Cedar Creek High School senior competes just as hard in the classroom as she does in the pool and leads by example in everything she does.
That competitiveness will now take her to a Division I swimming program.
Canale committed to swim at the University of Maine on a partial athletic/academic scholarship, becoming the second swimmer in school history to compete on the Division I level. Former standout Kauren Kelly swims at Pitt.
“Marlee is really the whole package,” Creek coach Lauren Ciccariello said. “She’s on the team to do well with her form and achieve her goals but she also has other things outside of swimming that she wants to do. She’s not just an athlete.”
Some student-athletes want to head to warmer weather when making their college choice.
“When I began my search for college, I knew I wanted to end up in the northeast,” Canale said. “It always appealed to me more than the south. I am looking to major in the natural science field, and they have a really strong program.”
Canale is ranked in the top 15 percent of her graduating class at Cedar Creek.
“(Academics) was a major factor,” Canale said. “I had to make sure that the college that I wanted fit with my swimming and my academic interests and Maine really did that for me.
“I am so happy that I was able to find a place that was so perfect for me and that I really enjoyed as a prospective student. When I was able to visit there, it was gorgeous. I felt right at home.”
Canale has had a storied career in her time at Cedar Creek. The Pirates won the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference title during her freshman season.
The 17-year-old Galloway Township native placed third in the 200 individual medley at the CAL Championships as a sophomore and second in the 100 last season as a junior.
Canale finished second in the 100 IM her sophomore season at the Hackney High School Girls Invitational Meet and third in the backstroke her junior season.
She finished second in the 100 backstroke in the Coach’s Invitational as a junior and also qualified to compete in the Meet of Champions. She will be one of the top swimmers in the area when the upcoming season does get underway.
Canale’s older sister, Gianna, is currently a member of the swim team at Juniata College. Her younger sister, Kendra, is a standout freshman at Cedar Creek
“Their whole family just has a love of the sport,” Cicciarello said.
Maine competes in the America East Conference. The Black Bears finished fifth in the America East Championships last season and went on to finish 14th overall in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships.
“I think Maine is getting a top notch kind of person,” Cicciarello said. “She is dedicated, she is hard working, and she is always thinking about her goals and how she can achieve them. She is also very willing to listen to feedback to see how she can improve.
“I think Maine is going to see great things coming from Marlee both in their science program and on their team.”
Swimming is something Canale has always enjoyed. She has been swimming since she was just a few years old and competes on the club level with the Egg Harbor Township Seahawks.
“All the hard work and training make it all worth it when you’re able to drop those times,” Canale said. “I would like to thank all my coaches — both high school and club — for all their support.”
John O’Kane was a member of the sports staff at The Press of Atlantic City for 12 years. O’Kane was the recipient of the John Vogeding Memorial Award in 2019 for “excellence in journalism,” awarded to a member of the media for their contribution to the sport of wrestling.