In recent years, Deer Brook Swim Club has typically posted strong performances by season’s end when competing in both the Jack Hafner Burlington County Championships and the Tri-County Swimming Championships.
The latter is an event where the best swim clubs from across Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties compete for the annual championship.
After a strong, second-place performance at the Burlington County championships in late July – when the Medford-based club finished just 19 points behind winning club Pomona – Deer Brook went on to finish third overall at the 65th annual Burt German Championships, placing highly in both season-end meets for yet another year.
Deer Brook scored 688 points to finish as the top scoring team from Burlington County in the Tri-County Championships, finishing just behind Wenonah and Erlton on the podium.
Head coach Andrew Girman, who just finished his 18th season with the Bluefish, had high expectations coming into the season, much as he does every year, due to the talent and work ethic he consistently sees in the Medford pools.
“We try to set our sights pretty high usually, and after doing as well as we did at the Burlington County Championships the weekend before the Tri-County, we knew we had a good shot going in …” he said.
“We’re always shooting for a top three finish at Tri-County,” Girman added. “With how the swimmers move up through the age brackets year after year, it poses a new challenge each year to continue to develop those newer or younger swimmers and set that foundation that’ll be there for years to come, while also making sure we’re helping the older age groups get stronger at the same time.
“When we started the season, we saw that we had a lot of youth and new faces on the team, so it was our goal to create a good positive team energy that we could continue to build off of,” Girman said.
The Bluefish competed this year in the Tri-County’s toughest of its six divisions, facing off against the likes of Wenonah, Green-Fields, Pomona, Willowdale and Wedgewood throughout the summer. That led to the two end-of-season meets that allowed Girman’s team to get its fair share of practice against some top-notch competition.
Deer Brook won 10 events throughout the weekend in a variety of age groups, eight in individual performances and two through relay events. Watching the team come together and compete against rival swim clubs in the end-of-summer meet is something that never gets old, according to Girman.
“It’s always extremely rewarding to see the swimmers have all the work they’ve put in over the summer really pay off through those big-time drops at the end of the year,” the coach said. “It just takes one person to start, it and then it feels like it’s one after the other for both days.
“As it goes on as a meet, it’s always something that makes us very proud as a coaching staff to see how we measure up against those other teams across the variety of age groups.”
Two members of the Deer Brook Swim Club were double winners in the Tri-County Swimming Championships, with Mallory Elberson winning both the girls 50-meter freestyle and the 25-meter butterfly in the 9- and 10-year-old age group. Greyson Stephens won both the 25-meter backstroke and the 25-meter butterfly for the 9- and 10-year-old brackets.
The wins were Elberson’s first career victories in her Tri-County career, while Stephens’ victories were the first of his individual career after being part of a winning relay team last year.
“It was really exciting to do as well as I did,’’ Elberson said. “I don’t think I’ve ever done that well at the Tri-County before. It was really fun swimming with the team all summer, and I was excited to see us do as well as we did as a team.”
Going into the weekend, Stephens said he was hopeful about what the team would be able to accomplish together.
“I was nervous, excited and hopeful all at the same time,” he said. “I was nervous that maybe I wasn’t going to do well, but I was excited, because I was hoping to break the record [in a race].
“I was really excited when they started to announce how the teams finished at the end of the meet … ” he added. “Our coaches told us they thought they knew who got first and second, so I was waiting to hear our name for a while. And when I didn’t hear our team be named fourth, I immediately knew we got third.”