Madison High School Swim Team: 2021-2022 Season Preview

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Yan Yan Li

Coach Moretti times a swimmer during practice on November 16, 2021

Yanyan Li, Staff Writer

Plagued with the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHS Swim Team missed out on the opportunity to have a full season last year. They were limited to virtual meets, could only practice in cohorts, did not have playoffs or championship meets, and were forced to share a pool with the Morristown-Beard school. 

A year later, with a brand new practice facility at the Madison Area YMCA, the team is ready to make up for their losses. 

Practices began on November 8th. After two days of doing training sets to re-adjust to the pool, time trials were held to help Coaches Lisa Moretti and Nancy Leib figure out the lineups for meets. Every swimmer swam a 50-yard freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly as well as a 100-yard freestyle race, and their finishing times were recorded. 

“This year what I am also happy about is that we have a record number of new swimmers and managers who joined the team this year,” Coach Moretti said. “Some swimmers are experienced, and some have never swum on a competitive team before. Everyone is welcome on the MHS swim team.”

Approaching their first meet on December 1st, the coaches have implemented rigorous but productive workouts during daily practices to make sure all the swimmers are prepared to compete. These workouts included starting block drills, kickboard exercises, and individual medley sets.

“The coaches are extremely dedicated and all the swimmers are very close and supportive,” junior Karen Wu said. “Everyone works hard and helps each other out – it’s truly a great team environment.”

The team competes in two different types of meets: dual meets and championship meets. Dual meets are between two schools, and each swimmer earns points for their school based on what they place in their race. At the end of a dual meet, the points that each school earns are added up and one school is declared a winner. Championship meets are more individual-based, and usually have multiple schools competing all at once. In championship meets, there is no scoring (with the exception of the Morris County Championship) and teams are not ranked. 

Last season, the girls’ team finished with a strong 5-2 record in dual meets. Led by senior captains Lily Barisonek and Allison Lee, the team is optimistic that they will continue their upward trajectory into this season.

“The girls’ team has so much incredible talent, both from new and returning swimmers,” Barisonek said. “The spirit, determination, and energy of everyone on the team is just amazing.”

Although they lost a large class of graduating seniors from last season, returning to the girls’ team are Barisonek, who was a 2021 NJAC Southern II First-Team all-conference swimmer in the 100-meter breaststroke, junior Karen Wu, who was first-team all-conference in the 100-meter backstroke, and sophomore Erin Barisonek, who was named as an honorable mention. In addition to those just mentioned, there are many other returning varsity letter winners on the team as well as a large class of incoming freshmen who can score points for the team in meets.

The boys’ team, captained by seniors Sterling Hart and Artha Abeysinghe, seeks to improve from their 2021 record of 2-5. They return NJAC Southern II all-conference honorable mentions, senior Justin Lee and junior Owen Weller, and similar to the girls, a large incoming freshman class and a good number of returning varsity letter winners.

“I am eager to take on this new season as a captain by bringing new levels of team spirit and cheering from the pool deck to make the season memorable, especially for my fellow seniors and the rest of the team.” Abeysinghe said. 

The girls’ team’s biggest challenges will come at the start of the season when they face their strongest opponents, Chatham, the defending 2020 Morris County Champions and the NJSIAA group B runners-up, and Morristown, who finished the 2021 season undefeated and were the 2020 Morris County Championship runners up; they are the only two teams that Madison lost to last season. 

Although the boys have lost to a historically strong Chatham boys team for the last two seasons, their narrow 86-84 victory against their rivals in the 2019 season brings them hope that it will occur again, especially with a new team.

Other challenges in the boys’ schedule include Delbarton, Morristown, and Parsippany Hills, who they have lost to in past seasons. Delbarton is perhaps their most difficult opponent, as they were the 2020 Morris County Champions and have consistently had a very strong roster. 

Championship meets for both teams include the Morris County Championship, where Madison finished 15th and 11th overall in 2020 for the girls and boys respectively, as well as “A” and “B” championships. These are all meets that require qualifying times to participate, and due to COVID-19, they were not held last season. The Meet of Champions, which is a state-wide championship meet that has faster qualifying times than all of the other championship meets listed, also occurs in early March. 

“We expect to have repeat qualifiers in the Meet of Champions (Karen Wu and Lilly Barisonek) and possibly some other team members who will qualify individually and in relays,” Coach Leib said. “The boys and girls teams have some strong returning swimmers to lead the team through both dual and state dual meet competition in February.”

In addition, both teams also have the opportunity to participate in NJSIAA postseason dual meets, which they could not do last year due to COVID-19 restrictions. In 2020, the girls fell to Bernards 92-72 in the North II Group C semi-finals, while the boys similarly lost to Bernards 107-62 in the quarterfinals. 

“I hope to improve individually and for the team to improve this year, and I am excited to meet all the new freshmen!” junior Owen Weller said.

For those wondering, the Madison Swim Team 2021-2022 Schedule is as follows:

12/01 vs. Chatham

12/06 @ Morristown 

12/07 vs. Parsippany Hills

12/15 @ Delbarton (boys only)

12/16 @ Villa Walsh (girls only)

12/21 vs. Mendham

01/04 vs. West Morris

01/12 @ Parsippany

01/14: “A” Championships

01/18 vs. Hanover Park

01/22: Morris County Championships

01/26 @ Morristown Beard

01/28: “B” Championships

February: NJSIAA State Tournament

03/05 to 03/06: Meet of Champions