January 12, 2022

PHS Girls’ Swimming Routs WW/P-South, Showing its Versatility, Depth in Improving to 7-0

NO BACKING DOWN: Princeton High girls’ swimming star Beatrice Cai displayed her backstroke form in a 200 individual medley race earlier this season. Last Thursday, junior Cai placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke as PHS defeated WW/P-South 125-45 to improve to 7-0. The team has now won 19 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional semifinals in 2020. In upcoming action, the Tigers host Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After going through a season last winter where it could only compete virtually, swimming separately at its pool and then sharing times with foes to calculate meet scores, the Princeton High girls’ swim team was excited for a face-to-face battle at WW/P-South last Thursday.

With both squads bringing undefeated records into the clash of rivals at the WW/P-S bubble, there was plenty of emotion on the deck.

“The energy is totally different when we are all cheering, we get more motivated and faster compared to last year when it was just us,” said PHS junior star Beatrice Cai.

“It felt like we were racing against each other instead of another school. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know which school you were going against.”

Against WW/P-S, the Tigers showed plenty of energy, winning all eight individual races and the three relays in posting a 125-45 win and improving to 7-0.

“We were really pumped up for South,” said Cai, who placed first in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke against the Pirates.

“We have been hyping up this meet for a little bit and we did really well. All our teammates tried our best, we did great. The team spirit was really great as well.”

Having a foe battling her in an adjacent lane helped Cai pull out her win in the backstroke race.

“The 100 back was fun,” said Cai. “I saw the girl next to me at the 50, it was really close. I pulled away in the second 50. Swimming next to each other, it gets the adrenaline going. You get more motivated.”

Cai, who also competes for the Whitewaters  Swimming club program, relishes her busy schedule.

“In swimming there are a lot of different aspects, like mileage and the mentality with the club environment,” said Cai.

“As a student-athlete, you have to balance a lot of things training for club and also in high school. It has been a great experience.”

With PHS dominating its competition, Cai is having a great time this winter with the Tigers.

“I love our team environment especially this year,” said Cai of the Tigers, who came into the WW/P-S meet ranked No. 8 in the NJ.com Top 20 state rankings.

“We have a lot of good underclassmen as well. I feel like as an upperclassmen, it is giving my experience to them. We are doing really well this season so I would like to see us keep going in future meets.”

In addition to Cai, other victors for PHS in the win over South included Courtney Weber in the 200 individual medley, Tracey Liu in the 50 free, Lauren Girouard in the 100 butterfly, Kyleigh Tangen in the 100 free, Sabine Ristad in the 500 free, and Annie Zhao in the 100 breaststroke.

With so much talent at her disposal, PHS head coach Carly Misiewicz mixed and matched things for the WW/P-S meet.

“The girls are also extremely versatile, I feel like we ran an entirely different lineup today than we normally do,” said Misiewicz, whose team has now won 19 straight dual meets since losing in the Central Jersey Group B sectional semifinals in 2020.

“We had Beatrice in the 200 free and the 100 back, throwing Jesse Wang in the 200 free and the 100 fly and different things like that. We can make so many different changes and luckily it is still dominant.”

Cai’s excellence has helped the Tigers produce their sizzling start.

“She is having a year this year, she has been dominant since her freshman year but she looks so smooth in the water,” said Misiewicz of Cai.

“You could tell that the work ethic is consistent and she is really putting everything into her training this year.”

PHS is getting superb performances across the board this year.

“Girouard is another one who is consistent for us too,” said Misiewicz, whose team hosts Trenton on January 13 and Nottingham on January 18.

“Kyleigh and Sabine are stepping up big for us. Annie Zhao has dropped a lot of time from the beginning of the year to now in the IM and the breaststroke. We have even put her in the 50 and 100 free this year too so it is just changing things up.”

With the Mercer County championship meet scheduled for January 27-29 at WW/P-North, Misiewicz is turning her attention to deploying her resources for that competition.

“We are starting to think about counties and what events people want to swim,” said Misiewicz, whose girls’ squad last won a county title in 2016.

“We are trying to see how people feel and what events they could thrive in.”

Cai, for her part, is ready to thrive in that meet. “I am really excited for counties. I remember freshman year, it was the first and last time I have done it,” said Cai.

“It was a really, really cool experience because there were so many teams and the energy was different. I am really excited for us to do counties.”