Liz Russo, who swam on Jackson Liberty High School’s girls’ swimming team in its early years, is back with her old team as head coach in hopes of building for the future behind record-setting freshman Carrie Spexarth.
It won’t be easy for her and her team. They practice and hold their home swim meets at Steinert High School in Hamilton, which is a 45-minute bus ride each way from Jackson Liberty. It’s been like that the past two seasons, as the Ocean County YMCA where the team practiced and held meets previously has been unavailable, Russo said. But she says it hasn’t dinted the outlook she and her swimmers have for a successful season after last season’s struggles.
“In our conference, we have a shot at being .500. That’s my goal,” Russo said.
The coach prefers setting what she considers attainable goals after the team won only one meet last season as it competes in the Shore Conference B Central Division. It already has a victory in its 1-3 start.
Danielle Trasky, a team co-captain with fellow senior Haley Kavanagh, has qualified for the Shore Conference championships in the 100-yard butterfly with a 1:11.05 time she set in the team’s 90-77 victory over Point Pleasant Borough High School. With the improved depth this year, Russo wants Trasky to concentrate more on the butterfly than trying to fill in at many other events.
Credit some of that to Spexarth, who re-set her pair of school records this season in a meet against Point Pleasant Borough. She won the individual medley in 2:22.58, surpassing her previous mark of 2:26.27, and the 100 backstroke in 1:05.39, beating her prior record time of 1:07.16 — both prior records set in a meet against Brick Township High School.
Russo feels the team is strongest in Spexarth’s events, but juniors Emily Schulte Jr., with a 7:05.66 in the 500 freestyle, and Hannah Macauley, with a time of 28.50 in the 50 freestyle, raise the team’s competitive edge in those events along with freshmen Sam Voicheck in the 50 freestyle with a personal best time of 30.81 and freshman Summer Lopez with a time of 1:08 in the 100 freestyle against Middletown High School North.
Jackson Liberty swims against Central Regional High School Dec. 15 and then is off for the holiday break until a Jan. 4 meet against Manchester Township High School.