There were plenty of reasons to be excited for the 2015-2016 swimming season even after an uncharacteristic 5-7 season in 2014-2015.
Cinnaminson welcomed back a group of seniors poised to lead the program to success with the help of talented underclassmen ready to jump in the pool and compete.
When the dust settled, or when the fog evaporated from the goggles, the Pirates finished with an overall record of 10-5 and advanced to the semifinal of the Central, Group B Tournament.
“I witnessed a full team,” head coach Dave Schroeder said. “I witnessed a group of kids that supported each other. I really think I watched a team become a team. They really came together. The end of the season was a direct result of them supporting each other and being a tight-knit team.”
Don’t forget; the Pirates swim as a co-ed program against all-boy squads, even in the playoffs.
The Pirates opened the season with a loss to perennial power Rancocas Valley, but that would not deter them from their goals. Cinnaminson won the next two meets before falling to eventual Central, Group B champion Moorestown.
At 2-2, the Pirates then reeled off five wins in a row to move to 7-2 and secure the #5 seed in the Central, Group B Tournament. Wins during that stretch came against Holy Cross (2), Delran, Northern Burlington and Pemberton.
“Once our kids saw they could go three lanes wide and a b-relay deep in most events, they started to realize they were a decent squad,” Schroeder said. “Having all those swimmers there covered up a lot of holes in our b-relay.”
Two more regular season loss to Rancocas Valley and Moorestown did not deter this team. Instead, the losses prepared the Pirates for the competition they would face in the playoffs.
Prior to the playoffs beginning the Pirates swam in the BCSL Open. The boy’s won the 200 medley relay, Lily Black won the 200 freestyle and Brian Finnan won the 100 breaststroke. All told, the team secured 6 gold medals, 17 silver medals and 1 bronze medal at the BCSL Open.
In the first round, Cinnaminson hosted a playoff meet for the first time in program history. The Pirates welcomed #8 Brick Memorial to the pool at BCC and soundly won by a score of 95-75.
Cinnaminson hit the road for the second round, taking down #4 Jackson Memorial in a blowout, 102-68.
“The kids finally really believed in what we had been telling them and we could see it in their body language,” Schroeder said. “The fact that we were a 5-seed going into a 4-seed, it felt like a little bit of an upset. It really had a playoff atmosphere; different pool, different teams. All around, it was probably my favorite meet coaching high school so far.”
Against Jackson Memorial, Black broke her own 500 record again, this time in 5.09.
“The 500 time against Jackson Memorial was pretty impressive,” Schroeder said. “She went against their top swimmer and beat him head-to-head. Finnan had some nice breaststroke races. He really came forward and we could count on those points each meet.”
In the semifinal round, the Pirates ran into #1 West Windsor-Plainsboro South, falling by a score of 112-58 to end the team season.
Throughout the year a handful of swimmers qualified for the Meet of Champions, both in individual events and relay events. Black was the lone Pirate swimmer to move onto the final day at the Meet of Champions after qualifying in the preliminaries. She finished fifth in her heat and 13th overall in the 500 freestyle as she broke her own school record again.
“I hope they take a step back and enjoy what they did,” Schroeder said. “At the same time, once you take that step back, you have to look at what got you there. We have a good nucleus coming back. If they are able to focus and start working hard with practices, good things can happen again next year.”
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