By DAVE O’SULLIVAN

Staff Writer

The Egg Harbor Township swimming program may have a lot less swimmers that it has in past years, but the positive energy couldn’t be any higher as both the boys and girls teams headed into the winter break with some solid wins and a lot of confidence.

The boys are off to a 3-0 start — one of just two teams in the Cape-Atlantic League, along with St. Augustine Prep, with unblemished records — and are coming off a dominating 107-63 victory over previously undefeated Ocean City (5-1) on Dec. 22. Egg Harbor Township also handed Mainland (4-1) it’s only loss with a 95-75 win on Dec. 16, and started the season with a blowout win over Absegami.

Against Ocean City, Dylan DeWitt and Ethan Do each scored a pair of individual event wins as the Eagles won all but two events, and senior Kevin Lin was first in the 50 free and a part of two winning relay teams. The Eagles also got an individual win from Charlie Seiverd in the 100 backstroke.  

Glory Days photo/Sully

“Every year we try to swim our best and try to beat them because they are one of our biggest rivals besides Mainland and St. Augustine Prep. It was nice to see our team doing so well even though some of us haven’t swam a lot due to covid,” Lin said after the win over Ocean City. “I feel like we need to be more disciplined toward the end of meets, especially on the 400 free relay. We seem to die out sometimes (in that event). We don’t have as big of a team as we did two years ago. We have a smaller group dynamic, but everybody is friends here and it’s created a great team environment. We hope we can push forward and make it back to the (sectional) finals.”

“I think this meet really proves where we are at right now and how much work we’ve put in. I’m proud of how we did because we all did our jobs. We expected this result because everyone has been putting in the work,” added Do, also a senior.

While EHT has won its first three meets relatively easy, the boys know January can be a grind, and with a smaller team they’ll have to be better at everything they do in order to be ready for the postseason in February.

“Our biggest challenge is endurance,” Lin said. “We have to work harder in practice because that’s where we’re going to get better. We have to work really hard then to see a reduction in our times.”

Added Do, “we definitely have our speed back but we still need a lot of work on the little things, focusing on our techniques and endurance. If we can do that, we’ll be very good the rest of the season. I like the competitiveness of our team and we have a lot of motivation.”

The EHT girls swimming team has been just as impressive, rebounding from a 92-78 loss to undefeated Mainland with a convincing 107-63 victory over Ocean City on Dec. 22. The Eagles won six events and stacked up a bunch of second- and third-place finishes to counteract the standout swimmers Ocean City has in certain events. Olivia Sherbin won a pair of events for the Red Raiders, but the Eagles got multiple individual wins from Denise Yushan (200 IM 100 breaststroke),  and other victories by Olivia Evans (50 free), Kayla Nguyen (100 fly), Julia Latham (500 free) and Katie Carlos (100 back). EHT also won the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay.  

Glory Days photo/Sully

“It’s not just (the upperclassmen), we have a lot of good upcoming freshmen and we just have a lot of good team energy. Keeping our spirits high makes all the difference,” said senior Sam Bork, part of the winning 200 free relay squad. “Ocean City has a lot of really good swimmers and they are really competitive. We have nothing but respect for them. It’s just been great to get back to swimming again and have that competitive environment.”

The overall numbers are down with the EHT girls team as well, but the Eagles see the bright side of having a smaller team this season.

“We’re doing great so far and we have a great team environment. I think that’s a majority of the reason why we’ve been so successful so far in the meets. Our team is definitely a lot smaller, but we still have a lot of depth and great swimmers. The girls are great to be around and that’s what makes it so fun,” Evans said. “We’re a lot closer because there are a less people. It does make it harder, though, because people have to do more events.”

The challenge for both the boys and girls teams in January will be to continue to win meets and post solid times without getting too worn out for the stretch run in February. That’s what makes the work they are doing during the holiday break so important.

“During winter break is when we’re all really trying our hardest in practice and getting the most mileage in that we can,” Bork explained. “The break is also a nice energy boost that can help us get over that next big hill so we can race well heading into the playoffs.”

Added Evans, “we don’t have meets during the break but we’ll be swimming every morning, and we have a lot of club swimmers, so they’ll be working out, too. I think we’re going to be pretty stacked (in January and February). We’ve been doing a lot of fast swimming and we just have to keep that up in practice.”

Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sullyglorydays@gmail.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays