TINTON FALLS – High school athletic seasons culminate with conference and state tournaments. Every team goes into the season with the goal of playing in and winning these tournaments. Most will have the opportunity to play in their conference tournaments, but few will be able to play for a state title. Additionally, there are only a handful of teams that make it to the final game and the opportunity to be crowned state champion. The Trinity Hall girls swim team was crowned Non-Public B state champion for the fifth year in a row.
When Trinity Hall was established as an all-girls Catholic high school in 2013, they immediately started to build their athletic program. The swim team began competing that same year and after a few seasons developed into a force to be reckoned with.
Coach Bill Lynch took over the team this season. He formerly coached the nearby Ocean Township High School boys and girls swim teams for 23 years. Retiring from public school teaching last June, he eventually moved on to Trinity Hall.
"It’s hard to just stop and forget about it (coaching). So, the opportunity came along to coach again at Trinity Hall, a great school with a solid athletic program,” said Lynch. “The swimming program is outstanding and has a great reputation. It was an easy decision to coach again.
"I am a hands-on coach,” he exclaimed. “I am always up moving around working on different techniques and strokes.” He also likes to include different types of workouts during his practices.
Going into the season Lynch had specific goals for the team. “We wanted to score as high as possible in the Monmouth County Championships and Shore Conference Championships. We also wanted to do well in our dual meets and repeat as Non-Public Group B champions,” said Lynch.
The team didn’t seem to have any problem transitioning to a new coach. “We have a great group of loyal girls who were all in from the very beginning. They understood the team’s goals and were committed to accomplish them. We could not have asked anything more out of them,” Lynch continued.
His coaching style seems to have worked, as Trinity Hall continued its winning ways finishing the season 8-1-1, second in the Shore Conference Championships and Non-Public Group B NJSIAA state champions.
In swimming, a team must have depth to be competitive. This is one of Trinity Hall’s strengths as they have 35 girls on their roster. During a dual meet each team is allowed to enter three swimmers per event with the top five places being awarded points. “The depth of a team is what wins meets. We have a nice combination of front line swimmers and depth on the outside lanes (where swimmers with slower times are placed),” said Lynch.
The team did hit a speed bump this season when it faced off against their toughest opponent, Westfield (12-2). This was Trinity Hall’s only loss of the season “Westfield was ranked in the top ten when we swam against them at a neutral site. They are a good team,” said Lynch.
Trinity Hall’s team features many seniors so picking a captain was difficult. “We have nine quality seniors,” said Lynch. “It was hard to pick any of them out, so we captain by committee rotating our seniors as meet captains.”
Lynch was unable to single out any of his swimmers as stand-outs. “We don’t have one or two superstars, but we are a solid team with a lot of depth. All the seniors were critical and we have a nice freshmen class. We didn’t win any individual races at the Monmouth County or Shore Conference Championships,” said Lynch. But as a team, they finished third in the Monmouth County Championships and second in the Shore Conference Championships.
Seniors Catherine Wright, Madeline Condon and Adriana Masters are taking their swimming skills to the next level. They all have already committed to swim in college with Wright going to UNC, Condon going to Bryant University and Masters going to Scranton University.
Trinity Hall fell to defending champion Colts Neck in the Shore Conference Championships. “They had solid front line swimmers and depth,” said Lynch. “We matched up pretty well with them and weren’t that far behind them. It was a numbers game, but they deserved it. They were good.”
Unlike dual meets, the Shore Conference Championships run in 16-swimmer heats for each event and scoring is based on the best times. Teams with a lot of depth have an advantage because the top 16 swimmers of the combined heats in each event are awarded points for their teams. In essence, swimmers are not competing head to head, but are battling the clock.
After falling short in the Shore Conference Championships, Lynch was not worried about the team bouncing back in the state tournament. “They were ready. We kept them fired up and practiced every day,” said Lynch.
His confidence was high going into the Non-Public Group B tournament. “We had scouted both teams we swam against.We had a good idea of what each team had. I thought we matched up well on paper and felt we could win,” he said. Lynch would use the scouting to his advantage.
"You take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses to create favorable match-ups. You put a lineup together to score more points than your opponent. We juggled our lineups over the entire season, so there is a little strategy involved,” explained Lynch.
Trinity Hall was able to win both of its state tournament meets by large margins, beating Gill St. Bernard’s by 83 points in the semifinals and beating Newark Academy by 42 points in the final. “We were solid top to bottom. We had more depth which is what did it. In dual meets you put up three quality swimmers in each event to score points. If you do that you are going to win and that’s what happened,” said Lynch.
This year’s Non-Public Group B championship was Trinity Hall’s fifth in a row. Lynch attributes their continued success to repeating the same combination year in and year out. “We have a lot of quality swimmers and a good combination of frontline swimmers and depth. It is all about the depth,” he said.
With nine seniors graduating there is a chance that Trinity Hall will not be able to compete at the same level next year. “Yes, it will be tough to replace those kids. We do have a solid group coming back and we’ll see what freshmen are coming in. We may need to retool a little bit but we have a solid nucleus. We will need to fill some spots to obtain the depth needed but that is the name of the game,” said Lynch.
Lynch is confident of the Trinity Hall swim team’s future. “We’ll be good. There is a great tradition, a wonderful school and the girls are outstanding. The administration is very supportive and we are known in the area as a good swimming program,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get some girls that are good swimmers to continue our success.”