Home Teams Do Well in Swimming Finals

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A packed crowd at Lake Shawnee enjoying the races.
Photos by Karen Fucito

Joseph Pinho, just eight years old, is only a “summer swimmer,” participating in the sport during the summer for the Shore Hills Swim Team. He is also the only SH swimmer to get a gold medal in this year’s North Jersey Regional Lake League (NJRLL) finals held at Lake Shawnee.

“Although he had a slow start, Joe was able to capture Shore Hills’s only individual gold medal when he took the race at the wall. Joe proved to be a real display of athletic ability all season but proved it especially at this meet. Despite never swimming outside of summers at the beach, he was able to pick up both breaststroke and backstroke late in the season and make it onto the podium in both events,” gushed Coach Brian Hehir. Pinho also added two silver medals.

The other swim team on the lake, Lake Forest Swim Team, built a powerhouse of a team this season with 11 swimmers getting gold medals in this year’s NJRLL finals. LF had a swimmer in almost every one of the 55-event races at the meet.

Alexia Rizzotto, 10,  got gold medals in three races.

“Alexia is very good. She swims at Randolph YMCA during the winter months. Her best stroke is breast stroke. She always places in the top 3, if not first in everything she swims. She is a great little swimmer and tries very hard,” said LF Coach Eddie Zappile.

Connor Mastricola, 18, ages out of the program after this season. He went out with a bang, getting gold in the 100 meter freestyle with a time of 1:02.31, beating out the second place finisher by almost two full seconds.

Zappile credits his team’s success with lots of hard work and a fun atmosphere. He and his coaching staff (his younger brother, Chris and long-time friend Louis Pessalnao, both accomplished swimmers themselves) have the knowledge and the resume to improve the team and individual performances. LF had one of its best seasons, finishing at 8-2. According to Zappile, the team had more first place and top 5 finishers than ever before.

For Shore Hills, the season ended on a high note. The relay team of Tyler McDonald, Sarah Mostafa, Helen Cheng and Ashleigh Sarafin captured gold in the Mixed 12 & Under 100 Meter Medley Relay event.

“The 12 & U medley relay (event 53) was the race of the day for Shore Hills. With a relay team that had been unstoppable for much of the season, we were expecting big things during the race. Ashleigh Sarafin began with a perfect backstroke leg to give us the lead after one lap. Tyler McDonald was the recently changed breaststroker for this event and swam really well. He had the unfortunate luck of having to swim next to the swimming specimen that is Jackie Kleinsorgen. Entering behind Flanders/Mount Olive, Helen Cheng began what seemed like the impossible task of overcoming the leaders. Helen did a great job of bringing the relay within a little more than a body length in her butterfly and then Sarah Mostafa swam the lap of her season. Halfway through the lap, the lead was only a half body length and shrinking. Sarah closed the race as well as humanly possible and was able to touch out Flanders/Mount Olive for the Gold,” said Coach Hehir.

Joseph Pinho, just eight years old, is only a “summer swimmer,” participating in the sport during the summer for the Shore Hills Swim Team. He is also the only SH swimmer to get a gold medal in this year’s North Jersey Regional Lake League (NJRLL) finals held at Lake Shawnee.

“Although he had a slow start, Joe was able to capture Shore Hills’s only individual gold medal when he took the race at the wall. Joe proved to be a real display of athletic ability all season but proved it especially at this meet. Despite never swimming outside of summers at the beach, he was able to pick up both breaststroke and backstroke late in the season and make it onto the podium in both events,” gushed Coach Brian Hehir. Pinho also added two silver medals.

The other swim team on the lake, Lake Forest Swim Team, built a powerhouse of a team this season with 11 swimmers getting gold medals in this year’s NJRLL finals. LF had a swimmer in almost every one of the 55-event races at the meet.

Alexia Rizzotto, 10 got gold medals in three races.

“Alexia is very good. She swims at Randolph YMCA during the winter months. Her best stroke is breast stroke. She always places in the top 3, if not first in everything she swims. She is a great little swimmer and tries very hard,” said LF Coach Eddie Zappile.

Connor Mastricola, 18, ages out of the program after this season. He went out with a bang, getting gold in the 100 meter freestyle with a time of 1:02.31, beating out the second place finisher by almost two full seconds.

Zappile credits his team’s success with lots of hard work and a fun atmosphere. He and his coaching staff (his younger brother, Chris and long-time friend Louis Pessalnao, both accomplished swimmers themselves) have the knowledge and the resume to improve the team and individual performances. LF had one of its best seasons, finishing at 8-2. According to Zappile, the team had more first place and top 5 finishers than ever before.

For Shore Hills, the season ended on a high note. The relay team of Tyler McDonald, Sarah Mostafa, Helen Cheng and Ashleigh Sarafin captured gold in the Mixed 12 & Under 100 Meter Medley Relay event.

“The 12 & U medley relay (event 53) was the race of the day for Shore Hills. With a relay team that had been unstoppable for much of the season, we were expecting big things during the race. Ashleigh Sarafin began with a perfect backstroke leg to give us the lead after one lap. Tyler McDonald was the recently changed breaststroker for this event and swam really well. He had the unfortunate luck of having to swim next to the swimming specimen that is Jackie Kleinsorgen. Entering behind Flanders/Mount Olive, Helen Cheng began what seemed like the impossible task of overcoming the leaders. Helen did a great job of bringing the relay within a little more than a body length in her butterfly and then Sarah Mostafa swam the lap of her season. Halfway through the lap, the lead was only a half body length and shrinking. Sarah closed the race as well as humanly possible and was able to touch out Flanders/Mount Olive for the Gold,” said Coach Hehir.

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Andrea Kutsup swimming the 100 meter IM for Lake Forest.

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Alexia Rissotto swimming the breaststroke leg of the 100 meter IM for Lake Forets.

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 Erin Miller swimming the backstroke of the 200 meter medley relay for Shore Hills.

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Finn Holovaces swimming the 50 meter freestyle for Lake Forest.

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 Alexis Faria swimming the 50 meter freestyle for Lake Forest.

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 Connor Mastricola swimming the 100 meter freestyle for Lake Forest.

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Chloe Rippey swimming the 50 meter breaststroke for Lake Forest.

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 Tyler McDonald swimming the 50 meter breaststroke for Shore Hills.

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 Shea Holovaces at the start of the 25 meter backstroke for Lake Forest.

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The Shore Hills and Lake Forest coaching staff watch their swimmers in the lake.

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Aaron Sawicki swimming the 25 meter backstroke for Lake Forest.

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 Ashleigh Sarafin swimming the 50 meter backstroke for Shore Hills.

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