Moorestown girls swimming enters playoffs with confidence after winning SJISA Coaches Invitational

The Quakers took first place at the meet for the first time in 10 years, beating second place Ocean City by 99 points.

Moorestown girls swimming celebrates after finishing in first place in the B Division at the SJISA Coaches Invitational.

Moorestown High School girls swimming has proven individual wins don’t always equal team victories in the pool.

“It’s better to get second, third and fourth than to get first, fifth and sixth,” senior captain Paige Coleman said.

Moorestown’s depth was on full display at the 2018 South Jersey Interscholastic Swimming Association Coaches’ Invitational on Jan. 27. The Quakers took first place in the B Division for the first time in 10 years, outdistancing perennial favorite Ocean City High School by 99 points to win the team title.

Moorestown earned the accomplishment despite taking first place in only one event in the meet. Emily Wisniewski took first place in the 100-yard butterfly for the Quakers. By contrast, Ocean City had first-place finishers in five races, but was unable to earn as many points further in the pack as Moorestown.

“We won because of our depth,” head coach John Battersby said. “We came in first in one event. We had three other second-place finishes, all three of our relays.”

Battersby said this year’s Moorestown team is possibly the deepest team he has ever coached. The continual development of the team’s returning swimmers and a strong freshman class have boosted the Quakers to new heights this season. Seven freshmen have contributed to Moorestown’s success.

“This freshman class is really special,” Coleman added. “I really think their talent will follow through all four years, and hopefully classes to come will be able to follow their lead.”

“Usually, the freshmen are nervous, but the skill is there,” senior captain Erin O’Sullivan added. “You have to accept it, and if everyone works together, it really makes our team so much better.”

Moorestown has numerous swimmers on the roster who typically practice with their club teams and swim with the high school team at competitions. Despite this, the senior class has focused on building a team-first mentality and keeping everyone united.

“A lot of the club swimmers know that the swimmers at (high school) practice are working just as hard as they are and the people who are getting second, third and fourth are just as important as the people who are getting first,” Coleman said.

The swimmers have embraced the team’s depth. Much of Moorestown’s success this year has been built around the team’s ability to earn points in the outside lanes. This proved crucial in a couple regular season dual meets, including a big 89–81 win in December over Bishop Eustace Preparatory School. The Quakers finished the regular season 9–1, with their only loss coming against Cherry Hill High School East in early December.

Though the team had tons of regular season success, its biggest obstacle is getting past Ocean City High School. Ocean City has been the dominant team in South Jersey Group B in recent years. The last three seasons, Moorestown faced Ocean City in the sectional final. All three years, the Quakers lost.

“This team is very hungry,” Battersby said. “This team knows what’s coming, they want what’s coming and they’re fired up.”

Finishing ahead of Ocean City at the SJISA invitational meet was a huge motivational booster for the Quakers. Coleman said the seniors have worked harder and harder each year to catch up to Ocean City and are confident this is the season the team can finally get over the top.

“It’s three years coming, losing to Ocean City, and each year the score has gotten closer and closer,” she said.

After taking first place in the invitational meet, Battersby made sure his team realized it needed to stay focused on the task ahead.

“When we were presented with the trophy, I told the girls to be proud, to enjoy it, this is a great accomplishment, it hasn’t been done in 10 years, but it’s not the trophy we want,” he said.

Moorestown and Ocean City could meet again for the South Jersey Group B title on Feb. 15. If the Quakers reach that point, they will have a chance to end a 14-year drought. Moorestown hasn’t won a sectional championship since 2004.

“The seniors want it so bad,” O’Sullivan said. “Everyone wants it so bad.”