January 10, 2024

Senior Star Tangen Looking to Have No Regrets As 8-0 PHS Girls’ Swimming Girds for Homestretch

ON PACE: Princeton High girls’ swimmer Kyleigh Tangen displays her freestyle form in a race earlier this season. Last Friday, senior star Tangen placed first in the 100-yard and 200 freestyle races as PHS defeated WW/P-South 128-42. The Tigers, who topped Nottingham 140-21 last Monday to improve to 8-0, host Trenton Central on January 11. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Kyleigh Tangen is hoping to conclude her final season for the Princeton High girls’ swimming team with no regrets.

“I would like to end on a good note; something I struggle with every time I race is I think of things that could be better,” said senior standout Tangen. “I am worried that when I end the season the only thing on my mind will be how can I do this better next time, but there won’t be a next time.”

Last Friday at WW/P-South, Tangen raced very well, placing first in the 100-yard and 200 freestyle events as PHS posted a 128-42 win over the Pirates. Other individual victors for the Tigers in the meet included Courtney Weber in the 100 individual medley, Viviana Cristofanelli in the 50 free, Lauren Girouard in the 100 butterfly, Sabine Ristad in the 500 free and 100 backstroke, and Nia Zagar in the 100 breaststroke.

For Tangen, coming through with wins in the 100 and 200 free was a matter of fine-tuning for challenges ahead.

“I have been trying to become a little bit more of a distance swimmer this season and I have been lacking on my sprint events,” said Tangen, who also swims for the Princeton Piranhas club program. “I am trying to use the 100 free like a measuring stick — I try to race it every single time as hard as I can like a speed workout. I have to be taking it really seriously. I want to get better in the 200 free, but I wouldn’t say it is my main event. I want to be become more well-rounded.”

With PHS having posted a 126-44 win over a formidable Notre Dame squad two days before the clash with South, Tangen saw those meets as a good way to start 2024. 

“It is really helpful to start to race these bigger teams, especially coming off break,” said Tangen. “It focuses everybody and sets the tone for the season going forward. Now is when we have to get moving. We just had a little rest, now we have to get back into the swing of things.”

Taking on a strong Pirate squad in their aquatic bubble helped focus Tangen.

“The mindset I had going into today was that it is not just an easy win,” said Tangen, who had to hold off Helen Chen of WW/P-S in the 100 free, posting a winning time of 0:55.83 with Chen just behind in 0:58.88. “You are going to get pushed, so you have to come with that energy to be able to have the mindset ready to go and race.”

Starring in cross country and track for PHS helps give Tangen extra energy in the pool.

“The running helps me with the distance events and in the sprints with the breath control,” said Tangen, who may compete in both sports or just running depending on where she goes to college. “The endurance is really good for swimming. The race strategy is there. When you are swimming you can’t really think about anything else because you are in a pool and you stare at the bottom of it. In running you can get a little distracted; I got the clear mental side of it from swimming.”

PHS head coach Carly (Miseiwicz) Fackler likes the athleticism and fire Tangen brings to the water.

“Kyleigh is trying to get into the 500, this year; she likes the 50, she likes the 100 and she kind of really doesn’t like the 200 much but she likes the 500 which is an interesting thing,” said Fackler. “She is also really big into running and cross country. I think her having that cross training and that endurance mentality has made her like the 500. She is a competitor, she is an athlete. She wants to win. She gets in the pool and wants to beat every single person that is next to her and you can’t ask for anything more from an athlete.”

Looking ahead, Fackler believes that her girls’ squad has plenty more to give this winter.

“We were down a couple of girls today, we have been down a couple of girls here or there,” said Fackler, whose squad topped Nottingham 121-49 last Monday to improve to 8-0 and has now posted 40 straight victories over Colonial Valley Conference foes. “I don’t think we have had that meet where we have really been at 100 percent, which is great and not great. It just kind of tells us that we have that much more.”

With postseason action around the corner, the Tigers are focused on being at 100 percent when it counts the most.

“We are gearing up for MCTs the next three weeks, that is our next short-term goal and then from there is the postseason,” said Fackler, whose team won the county meet last winter and went on to win the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Group B state title and go 14-0. “It is seeing how can we rack up as many power points as possible right now to put us in the best possible situation, whether it is to have that double-bye or whether it is to have that home advantage.”

Tangen, for her part, believes that PHS can end the winter with a bang.

“Everybody on the team is a little bit antsy, we want to get to those things,” said Tangen. “We can’t wait until counties come along because counties are just so fun. I think everybody else feels the same. It is going to be super fun when we get there.”