WARREN _ Banish the notion that swimmers are focused, blinders-on types of athletes.
Chatham junior Reagan Kology certainly isn't and, apparently, neither are her teammates.
Kology feeds off the atmosphere, especially when a big meet, like the one the Cougars had versus Kinnelon on Thursday, Jan. 17, is on the line.
"I'm swimming but I can see and hear everything," said Kology, who helped Chatham defeat the Colts, 93-77, at the Morris-Union Jointure. "The parents are out of their seats. People are running up and down the sides of the pool. There's the pounding in your head."
The meet between the unbeaten teams was a crowd pleaser and, when it ended, the Cougars had pushed their record to 9-0.
As far as Kology was concerned, the raucous fans were part of the win, which ended with Chatham finishing first and second in the 400 freestyle relay.
"It's like the crowd is actually there with you," Kology said. "When you're in pain and dying off the wall, you appreciate it."
Kology took first in the 200 and 500 freestyle and was on the victorious 400 freestyle relay team along with Shana McLaughlin, Morgan Conley and Jess Gorham. She also was a part of the 200 freestyle team with the same girls, taking the gold.
Like Kology, Gorham was thrilled by the outcome considering the talent of the Colts' team.
"It was all adrenaline," Gorham said. "You can feel it coming through your body on a night like this. It was an emotional night. We were behind but we knew it wasn't over. We knew that if we had no energy, we had done our jobs."
First-year Cougars coach Frank DiGiacomo spent quite a bit of time figuring out possible scenarios. DiGiacomo was precisely right when he figured it would be a close, maybe even coming down to the last race or two.
"The strategy worked out nicely," DiGiacomo said. "We did lose a few we thought we'd win and we got a few we thought we wouldn't get. Our girls wanted it. They were ready.
"This is indescribable. Incredible. Kinnelon is extremely good. I knew they'd push us and they did."
Halfway through the meet, Chatham was behind by six points. Kinnelon (7-1) got off to a strong start, taking the top spot in the the medley relay, the 200 IM, 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle. Mackenzie Heffernan was key, contributing as a member of the relay team then prevailing in the 200 IM and the butterfly. Meghan Thompson topped the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle events.
"We weren't going to give up," said McLaughlin, another junior. "We expected it to be really close. We just wanted to win and get places in as many races as we could."
Gorham played a major role in the victory with her efforts in the 200 and 400 freestyle relays as well as the backstroke.
"When we get points, we do it for everyone. We make everyone proud," Kology said. "It's a 110 percent effort. We swim for each other. This is a family."
Another important element of the meet was Chatham garnering second in the 400 freestyle in 3:48.92. Members of that team were Kara Miller-Radesti, Alyssa Hartigan, Jenny Allocco and Camille Relotta.
"Every sheet meet we ran through made us figure it would turn out like this," DiGiacomo said. "This is such a great feeling. It's pure energy."
Latest from Sandy Seegers