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A team-by-team preview of the local girls swimming season

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The high school swimming season begins Thursday across the state.

A look at the season to unfold in the next three months.

The Press Preseason Elite 11

1. Haddonfield

2. Cherry Hill East

3. Mainland Regional

4. Egg Harbor Township

5. Cherokee

6. Ocean City

7. Vineland

8. Our Lady of Mercy

9. Cherry Hill West

10. Moorestown

11. Shawnee

Returning first-team Press All-Stars

Alivia Wainwright, Mainland Reg.

Scarlett McGlinchey, Our Lady of Mercy

Ava Luciano, Vineland

Isabella Valle, Our Lady of Mercy

Katie Carlos, Egg Harbor Twp.

Monica Iordanov, Mainland Reg.

Kayla Nguyen, Egg Harbor Twp.

Lena Luciano, Vineland

Kendra Canale, Cedar Creek

Rhylee Cornell, Egg Harbor Twp.

New coaches

Stephen Tucker, Our Lady of Mercy

3 notable meets

Dec. 8: Egg Harbor Township at Ocean City

Dec.14: Cedar Creek at Middle Township at Cape May County Special Services pool

Dec. 20: Mainland Regional at Our Lady of Mercy at St. Augustine Prep

Key dates

Dec. 8: Opening day

Jan. 30: Cutoff date

Feb. 2: Tournament seedings

Feb. 7: Public state tournament begins

Feb. 10: Non-Public state tournament begins

Feb. 16: Public sectional finals at GCIT

Feb. 20: Non-Public state semifinals

Feb. 21: Public state semifinals

Feb. 25: State finals at GCIT

Mar. 4: State individual semifinals at GCIT

Mar. 5: State individual finals at GCIT

CAPE-ATLANTIC LEAGUE American Conference

Atlantic City (5-5 overall last year, and 4-2 in the American Conference) graduated Megan Fox, The 2022 Press Girls Swimmer of the Year, but has several key scorers back. They include Grace Gaskill, Olivia Kulakowski, Melissa Tran, Lauren Fox (Megan’s sister), Anna Tran (Melissa’s cousin) and Katelynn Do. The lineup also has Stella Smith, Rosie Miltenberger, Ixanna Salinas-Torres, Maggie Eidt ad freshman Jodi-Lynn Pereira.

“We lost our fastest swimmer in Megan Fox, but people are stepping up, and we’ll change the lineup to compensate,” coach Sean Duffey said.

Egg Harbor Township (9-2, 6-0 American) returns several frontline swimmers, including seniors Meredith Elko and Denise Yushan and juniors Kayla Nguyen, Sydney Moore, Rhylee Cornell, Jewel Mallari and Katie Carlos. The Eagles’ deep lineup also has Rachel Yushan (Denise’s sister), Julia Latham, Summer DeWitt, Jasmine Chen, Ainsley Matuson and Imani Goods-Minor.

“We return a lot of talent, and we’re excited for the season,” coach Mark Jamieson said. “With the realignment of the CAL, there’s a lot of competition. We have a lot of work to do in a small amount of time.”

Vineland (10-2, 5-0 National Conference) looks to improve on last year’s successful season. The Fighting Clan have sisters Lena and Ava Luciano, Ava Levari, Isabela Saltar, twins Jada and Vanessa Williams and Ava Smith. Other key swimmers include Gabby Brown, Alyanna Tiu, Illiana Figueroa and Ashlynn Newton.

“We have by far our biggest team, including 13 new swimmers,” coach Mike Schneider said. “We expect some to step in right away. The conference is strong, and South Jersey Public A is strong. We expect to be challenged, but we’re excited to compete.”

Mainland Regional (12-2, 4-1 National) graduated six seniors but still looks strong. The Mustangs return Monica Iordanov, Alivia Wainwright (the CAL 100 backstroke champion), Samantha Camey, Summer Cassidy, Laci Denn, Claudia Booth, Shannon Sharkey and Aixell Perez. Other scorers include Charlotte Evinski and Leah Nirenberg.

“Every year will be a transition, and we’re excited to see new leadership step up and our teammates embrace new opportunities,” coach Mike Schiavo said. “We’ll work hard to stay competitive with the rest of the CAL.”

Absegami (1-7, 1-5 American) will be led by seniors Isabella DeStefano and Stephanie Ruales, and freshmen Samia Ghazaz and Christmas Pyshnik.

“We lost only two seniors last year and replaced them with several novice swimmers for a growing team,” coach Jim Winkler said.

Millville (2-4, 1-4 National) has several returnees after graduating four seniors.

Ocean City (9-3, 5-1 American) has many key swimmers back and should be competitive in the conference. The Red Raiders have Kelsea Cooke, Callie Bellwoar, Rachel Stauffer, Mia Buonadonna, Abby Hayes and Sophia Petrov. Other likely contributors include Ryan Cooke (Kelsea’s sister) and Julianna Duff.

“We’re hoping to have another great year,” coach Ian Keyser said. “Sophomores and juniors are the bulk of our numbers. We’re looking to make improvements from where we left off last year.”

Our Lady of Mercy Academy (6-4, 3-2 National), led by new coach Stephen Tucker, should also be a conference contender. The Villagers return several strong swimmers, including Izzy Rossi, Scarlett McGlinchey (the CAL 100 breaststroke champion), Isabela Valle, Reese Hetzer and Carley Volkmann. Sarah Kern and Ellie McDonough will add to the lineup. Key freshmen include Abby Kern (Sarah’s sister), Gia DiLeonardo and Sydney Bickett.

“We’ll be in Non-Public B this year (OLMA was in A last winter), and we have our sights set on a state tournament run,” Tucker said. “The CAL is one of the toughest. Every night will be a battle.”

National Conference

The realigned CAL National Conference in swimming has smaller schools, and many programs are coed. The coed teams compete in boys swimming, so the National Conference has only four girls teams.

Cedar Creek (5-5, 3-3 American) will be led by Kendra Canale, plus Abby Clapp, Logan Roesch, Alana Crosson and Amber Klose. Sarah Gutierrez, Lauren Rhodes and Leah Denmead will help make the Pirates a conference contender.

“We should be just as strong as last year, if not stronger,” Cedar Creek coach Lauren Ciccariello said.

Oakcrest (2-5, 1-3 National) has several key swimmers returning and could challenge in the conference. Seniors Jade McCoy and Tiffany Tran and juniors Carina Costa, Kyla Richardson and Cate LaRoche should make the Falcons a winner. Freshman Abby Ranger is a strong prospect.

“We have really great leadership, and we have a chance to win the conference,” coach Mitch Friedel said.

Middle Township (3-6, 2-4 American) graduated 10 seniors last year and should be in a rebuilding mode. The Panthers have Sofia Jurusz, Brooke Yarson, Reilly Deschenes, Fiona Gale, Eliana Tallant and Olivia Harkins.

“We hope to win some meets and get some personal-best times,” coach Melissa Jastremski said.

Holy Spirit (0-9-1, 0-6 American) will be led by seniors Maura McNulty, Melanie Torres and Ava Voois. Jordan Finnerty and freshman Tess Roman will help.

Shore Conference

Southern Regional (10-1, 7-0 Shore A South), the three-time defending Shore Conference A South champion, should again be the team to beat. The Rams feature Payton Nork, Shae Centanni, Francesca Fields and Chloe Furlong. Gianna Giglioli, Madeline Krason, Julianna Marco and Greta Schulze are consistent scorers. Freshmen Sevanah Oravets and Emily Kulinski should do well.

“The outlook is very good,” coach Bill Entrikin said. “We hope to win our fourth in a row in A South, and we’d like to win the Ocean County title. We won the county title in 2020 and were second to Donovan Catholic last year. We also want to make a deep run in the playoffs.”

Barnegat (4-4, 3-3 Shore B South) has a competitive lineup led by Hailey Lutz, Emily McAvoy, Alyson Sojak, Julie Brown, Delaney Dobbin and Sarah Schager. Other key scorers include Emalie Menegus, Priscilla Pires and Kaya Piskorzewski. The freshman prospects include Kylei Grant, Elizabeth Wattez and Natalia Webb.

Barnegat’s co-coaches are Emily Cherry and Taylor Teliszewski.

“Our girls team continues to grow and improve,” said Cherry and Teliszewski in a joint release. “We have a number of returning swimmers who continue to give it all they have during practices to refine their skills. We also have a plethora of new swimmers who show a lot of promise!”

Lacey Township (1-9, 1-5 Shore B South) will be led by Celia Santarsiero and Brielle Speck, plus Ena Stevens and Gianna Gialanella. More than half of the team is new. Leading freshmen include Mareena Ferraiuolo, Brooke McGinley and Tatianna Fables-Perez.

“We have a lot of potential, and I’m excited to see what they can do,” coach Aaron Fritz said.

Tri-County Conference

Cumberland Regional (3-3, 2-3 Tri-County) features returnees Sarah Williams, Mackenzie Davis and Aine Kennedy. Maahishee Patel, Riley Headrick and Kylie Stites are among their leading freshmen.

“We graduated seven, and I would say it’s almost a rebuilding season,” coach Rachael DeSantis said. “We’ll give it our best.”


Tucker, OLMA’s new coach, was a standout swimmer for the since-closed Sacred Heart High School and then for Rowan University (a 2010 graduate). He coached the Sterling coed team for three years and was chosen the Coach of the Year one season by the South Jersey Swimming Coaches Association. Tucker was also an assistant coach at Kingsway Regional and already has coached some of this year’s OLMA swimmers with club teams.

Contact Guy Gargan: 609-272-7210.


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Staff Writer

I’ve been at The Press since January of 1983. I cover all sports in general, but mostly lifeguard racing, and high school field hockey, football, swimming, basketball, crew, baseball and softball.

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