MORRISTOWN _ Mary Laurita had long admired Isabelle Cecere, who established a number of records while swimming for Mendham.
Laurita, a junior, thought of Cecere, now at Cornell, after she broke her record in the 100 butterfly at the Morris County Swimming Championships on Saturday, Jan. 30.
"I looked up to Isabelle," said Laurita, an eighth grader when Cecere swam a 1:03.74 at the 2013 county meet. "I knew her since I was little from club and school. It's great to break a record. It's more of an honor because it was one held by Isabelle."
In the first event of the meet, Laurita garnered more gold, helping the Minutemen smash another record, this time in the 200 medley relay. Also taking part in the relay were Kate Alexy, Sarah Daly and Kathleen Kemp. They finished in 2:01.51, bettering the 2:01.88 Villa Walsh recorded in 2015.
Chatham, led by Nina Barrett and Hannah Womer, captured the team title for the eighth consecutive year by amassing 326 points. Morristown, which hosted the meet, was second with 189 and Mendham took third.
Laurel Carey of Madison was a double winner, taking gold in the 50 and 100-meter freestyle races. Roxbury's Jackie Kleinsorgen prevailed in the 200-meter freestyle. Mendham topped the field in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.
Kleinsorgen, a junior, was nervous, but not as much as usual, prior to and during her race.
"In my head, I was saying 'I've got this,'" Kleinsorgen said. "I felt like I would do well. In the 200 free, I went out fast and tried to hold it. I didn't want to lose pace. I pulled ahead and realized I could do it. This is big for me. I won the 200IM at the 'A' Meet here recently but I've never won at counties."
Danielle Iuspa of Parsippany Hills, who took fourth in the 200 free, was swimming two lanes away but was cheering Kleinsorgen on.
"She could see me and kept saying 'Go Jackie! Go Jackie!'" said Kleinsorgen, who hoped to celebrate her victory with pizza later Saturday night.
Laurita doesn't consider herself superstitious but wears the same pink, blue and green hair ties when she takes to the water. She was wrapped in her favorite red and white polka dot towel.
"They're really just comforts," she said.
Her thoughts on swimming well and being involved in two record-breaking races?
"I had nerves going in but they helped me," Laurita said. "It was really a combination of nervousness and excitement. Emily Gorham (second place) is such a great competitor. We tied last year. I was second as a freshman. It's exciting to know I won. All of Morris County is getting faster. It's good to see that."
Once Laurita, also second in the 50 freestyle, finished her events, she settled in near the pool to cheer on her teammates.
Taking gold in the relays was critical for Chatham. The foursome was the same in each one - Womer, Gorham, Margaret Harrigan and Nicole Tingley.
The Cougars won only two individual events as Womer touched first in the 200IM and Barrett took gold in the 400 freestyle. Still, Chatham piled up points with its swimmers frequently placing in the top six.
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