Cinnaminson’s co-ed swimming off to fast start after season-opening win

The Pirates defeated Moorestown for the first time in more than a decade and have an undefeated record after the season’s first two weeks.

Julianna Wahl pushes forward in the 100-yard butterfly during the Pirates’ meet against Northern Burlington County Regional High School last Tuesday. Wahl is one of a number of freshman swimmers who have had a positive impact on the Pirates this season.

Cinnaminson High School’s co-ed swimming team opened the 2018–19 season by doing something the program hadn’t done in more than a decade.

In the Pirates’ first meet of the season on Dec. 3, Cinnaminson defeated Moorestown’s boys team, 91–79. It is believed to be the first win for Cinnaminson against Moorestown since 2004. The Pirates went on to defeat Pemberton Township High School and Northern Burlington County Regional High School’s co-ed teams to start their season 3–0.

“Even before we started swimming in high school, they were kind of seen as the unbeatable team,” senior Robert Sandeen said of Moorestown. “To beat them this year, was a good thing to do.”

Head coach Jon David Schroeder is proud of how competitive is co-ed team is. The Pirates are one of 17 co-ed swimming teams competing in South Jersey, according to NJSIAA classifications. NJSIAA rules state co-ed swim teams may only compete against boys swimming teams or other co-ed teams.

“As a girl, it’s pretty awesome to see us beating the all boys teams,” senior Erin Barrett said. “As a team, we all get excited together on the bus ride here. We all support each other and cheer each other while we’re swimming.”

Schroeder believes this year’s Cinnaminson team is the best the program has seen in a number of years. He also feels the Pirates may be the best co-ed team in South Jersey.

“We don’t have enough guys to make a guys team,” Schroeder said. “We don’t have enough girls to make a girls team. But when you put together the girls and guys we do have, together they’re a pretty strong co-ed team.”

An influx of talented freshmen has given this year’s team a boost. Julianna Wahl, Croix Horsley and Kylie Rodi are some of the ninth graders who have stepped up and contributed in the pool early this season. Schroeder mentioned Wahl has already qualified for the end of season NJSIAA Individual State Championships.

“They are filling in wonderfully,” Schroeder said about the freshmen. “What it does is it gives the other kids rest. Where in the past some of them had to swim in four events, maybe some of them two back-to-back, they don’t need to swim the two back-to-back or four events (now). They can specialize in two or three and go for a better time and not be exhausted. That’s where we’re noticing the big difference.”

The freshmen have added depth to a team with a number of fast upperclassmen. Junior Jack Lilley took first place in two events in the Moorestown meet and is one of the Pirates’ top swimmers. Senior Brendan McDevitt also had a pair of wins in the Moorestown meet. He provides speed in the pool and leadership outside of it along with fellow seniors and twin brothers Andrew and Robert Sandeen.

Schroeder believes having two strong summer swim teams, Pomona and Pheasant Run, located in Cinnaminson has also played a big part in the team’s recent success. Even though the two teams share a summer rivalry, Schroeder noted the swimmers all come together when they compete for their high school in the winter.

“The kids support each other,” Schroeder said. “If you show up at practice, if you perform in a meet, if you do your part, it doesn’t matter what color you wear in the summer. We’re all Pirates in the winter.”

“Over the summer, we’re rivals,” McDevitt said. “But during the school season, we bond as a team.”

Cinnaminson realizes it will be challenged even more as it goes deeper into the season. Cinnaminson expects to be challenged in the Burlington County Scholastic League by Rancocas Valley Regional High School and is also gearing up for a rematch against Moorestown, set for Dec. 20.

“I’m sure Moorestown is going to be coming at us in the next meet,” Schroeder said. “But that’s what everyone trains for.”