Greg Hand has been doing some mixing and matching this winter with his Princeton High girls’ swim squad.
“It is a team where we have done a lot of experimenting,” said longtime PHS head coach Hand.
“We are well aware that we never compete in a single gender format in our league so we are not used to what state meets are going to bring to us. We want to prepare for the challenges of that format but we also want to make sure that we have fought through the spacing because what we can do now we may not be able to do very effectively when there isn’t an intervening boys’ meet.”
So far, Hand has found the right formula as PHS has gotten off to an 8-0 start.
“We have balance across the middle lane but we also have substantial amount of support from the ‘B’ lane and often the ‘C’ lane in a number of events,” said Hand.
“We are getting good second relays this year. The sense of purpose is evident, the focus on the postseason and what we are trying to do is growing.”
In a 123-47 win over Hightstown on January 14, the Little Tigers showed good focus as their supporting cast got to shine.
“Tonight’s meet was really fun because we got to see all the kids who are normally training here and having them handle the meet themselves,” said Hand.
“We wanted our club kids, those kids who would have an opportunity to be training tonight because there are so many dual meets that training gets fouled up.”
It has been fun for Hand to see how some of his experienced swimmers have progressed.
“We have seen a lot of great stuff recently from all of the kids who are veteran PHS swimmers, kids like Crystal An, Hannah Ash, Jessica Bai,” said Hand.
“Taylor Chiang is swimming club and she is swimming a lot of high school this year as well. She has done a great job and has made a steady contribution here on deck. Lindsey Lim is having a terrific year, shedding time and really has a racing mentality this year. Cara Persico had a personal record at Notre Dame and had good swims tonight. Charlotte Singer is coming on really well in the breaststroke and she swam the 500 today.”
The team’s big four of sophomore Madeleine Deardorff, sophomore Brianna Romaine, freshman Jamie Liu and senior Belinda Liu, have all been having terrific seasons.
“Among the four kids who are the fastest group on our team, which is Madeleine, Brianna, Jamie and Belinda, it is an interesting challenge to think about what is best for them and for the team,” said Hand.
“One of the fun exercises is to look at the eight individual events in the county and the dual meet events and just look at the different ways to divide the kids.”
For Hand, dealing with the challenge of dividing up his swimmers makes him realize his good fortune in having so much talent at his disposal.
“We are just lucky that we are that the kids are so heavily into all of this,” added Hand.
“We are very fortunate to have had, for as many years as we have, the quality of swimmers we have had.”
PHS will be striving to produce even higher quality swims as it competes in the county championships from January 30 – February 1, looking for a second straight team title.
“It has been a terrific phase, the girls have power pointed a little
bit higher than last year already,” said Hand, whose team also has a regular season meet at Nottingham on January 23.
“We are building and having some new kids and having to search for the ways to make up for the really fine swimmers who graduated. The girls are doing well, they are up a notch from where they have been.”