Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 32
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
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TWIN PEAKS: Twins Abigail and Ben Gulbranson are all smiles as they show off the Most Valuable swimmer plaques they won last week swimming for the Community Park Bluefish at the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet. Abigail won the Division 1 girls’ 6-and under 25-meter freestyle and 25 backstroke at the meet while her brother placed first in the same events in the Division 1 boys’ 6-and-under category.

Kolman Leads CP Bluefish Through Change but Team’s Success Continues at PASDA Meet

Bill Alden

Amy Kolman drew on her experience as a teacher in taking the helm of the Community Park Bluefish swimming program this summer.

“I have been a high school English teacher for 12 years,” said the Kolman, who also served as a coach for the Central Bucks East High swim team and the Fanny Chapman Swim Club.

“It was much like running classroom sometimes, I had six assistant coaches and I had to smooth over the tension sometimes. They have all known each other their whole lives and I’m the new one. We made some changes this year.”

While there may have been some changes in the coaching approach, the Bluefish’s tradition of success continued under Kolman’s guidance as the squad placed third among Division 1 teams at the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet.

Kolman was proud of how the team got the most out of what it had with a lineup depleted due to swimmers being on vacation.

“We had very few swimmers for a third place finish,” said Kolman, noting that the Bluefish had about 40 swimmers on hand at the PASDA meet, which was held at the Flemington-Raritan Community Pool.

“We were in fifth place going into the second day and our 12 and older kids all the way up to the 19 year olds really came and did a great job and got us up to third. I was really pleased; it was great.”

In taking third, Bluefish swimmers set a bunch of meet records because the meet took place in a pool with distances in meters rather than yards.

In the 6-and-under boys, Ben Gulbranson set records in both the 25-meter freestyle and 25 backstroke while his twin sister, Abigail, set a record in the girls’ 25 free.

Pepper Kolman, the coach’s daughter, established a new mark in the girls’ 8-and-under back.

In the girls’ 10-and-under age group, Ingrid Lillis set a record in the 25 back while Charlotte Singer set a new standard in the 25 breaststroke.

Will Stange set a meet record in the 12-and-under boys’ 50 back while Jake Valente set a new mark in the 14-and-under breast.

Michael Carter set a record in the boys’ 14-and-under 50 butterfly and helped the boys’ 200 medley relay achieve a new mark.

Hannah Matheson was a one-person wrecking crew in the 14-and-under girls, setting marks in the 50 fly and the 100 individual medley and then helping both the CP 200 free and medley relays establish records. Megan Lydzinski also set a mark on the 14-and-under category in the 50 free.

In the 15-and-over boys’ category, CP set marks in both the 200 free and medley relays with the quartet of Carter, Connor Bowman, Ben Wilde, and Peter Deardorff.

Matthew Carter established a record in the boys’ 18-and-under breast.

In Kolman’s view, the records were the product of her swimmers’ gutsy approach.

“I didn’t realize how big that meet is, there are many, many teams from Burlington County to all the way over here,” said Kolman.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking, especially for the little guys when they get there, to see how big it is. They are not used to that level of competition and how many kids they are going up against. They weren’t intimidated.”

The Gulbranson twins, who both won meet Most Valuable Swimmer awards, emerged as two of CP’s most courageous swimmers.

“They are new to the program; they moved from Arizona,” said Kolman.

“They have an older sister, Sarah, who is on the team as well. Ben and Abby are swimmers and divers; they are fearless. They just come out and have fun and when they are not swimming, they are wrestling around on the ground together. They are a really great family, we are glad to have them.”

Kolman was certainly glad to have the prolific Matheson around. “Hannah is a star,” said Kolman, noting that Matheson also won Most Valuable Swimmer honors in her age group.

“She is always there talking to me about which way the relay should go and what is the fastest combination. She is a scientist of swimming and I like that.”

Holy Cross-bound Connor Bowman provided some veteran leadership and power to CP’s 15-and-over boys’ relay teams.

“It was Connor Bowman’s swan song for PASDA swimming; I think he came to every meet,” said Kolman.

“Some of the older guys in Princeton don’t do PASDA anymore; they are either done with swimming or they have moved on to USS. I’m so happy he came out. He’s great; he can power his way through a 50 very, very well. It’s exciting to watch him swim. He leads the relays off usually and the other guys get psyched behind him. They had a lot of great races this season.”

For Kolman, the CP program’s success goes beyond producing great races. “I think summer swimming is impressively unique,” maintained Kolman.

“There is no other sport I can think of where there are 5 year olds and 19 year olds, boys and girls, together cheering for the same end on a Tuesday night at 9. We raise ladies and gentlemen; the boys have to be affected by being friends with the girls from the time they are 5 until they graduate. I just think it is so special.”

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