UPPER MERION — It's a new season and Norristown High's girls swimming team is ready for it with something old and something new. The "old' is state-caliber breaststroke swimmer Nicole Martorella, who is now a senior. The "new' is numbers. The Eagles have their largest team in years with 18 members.
Norristown kicked off its 2013-2014 campaign at Friday night's Upper Merion Relays. The Eagles posted a number of good swims but not enough to win the team trophy. That honor went to Methacton's girls. In the boys meet, Wissahickon captured the team title while the combined title went to Methacton.
Martorella, who has been one of the premier swimmers in the Suburban One League American Conference for the last few years, started the new season with good results.
"I had some good times tonight,' said Martorella. "I was most happy with my 50 breaststroke. I did a 31.3 which is my best split ever. My other races were all really good too.
"My goals this season are to qualify for states in the 100 breast and to repeat as Suburban One champ in 100 breaststroke — to win it three years in a row. I'd like to get down to a 1:05.
"Last year I missed states by two-tenths of a second. I was so upset, but I used it as motivation. It helped me a lot this summer as I prepared for my senior season. I got a NCSA Junior National qualifying time in 100 breast this summer.'
Martorella also has the advantage of heading into the season with the pressure of deciding which college to attend.
"I committed to Shippensburg University,' said Martorella, whose sister Danielle is also a key member of Norristown's team. "I really liked the coach — Tim Verge. That was my major deciding factor. I knew it was a place I could improve more.
"I also felt like I fit in with the team. It's a close-knit team. I'm going to major in exercise science and minor in biology so I can become a physical therapist.'
This year, Martorella will have enough teammates so that the Eagles' team can have enough entries to be competitive in dual meets.
"This is our largest team in a while,' said Norristown coach Beth O'Neil. "We have two strong returners in Nicole Martorella and Morgan Purcell.
"We also have a number of good freshmen including Victoria Brousseau, Megan Litschia and Alyssa Delordin. And we have three good divers who can also do swim events for us — Carly Harrity, Jackie Cegueda and Zuri Pesina.'
This year O'Neil will coach both the boys and the girls after years as just the girls coach. She is assisted by former Norristown High multi-sport standout Rachel Vagnoni. Luke Stem, a former NHS diver, has taken over as diving coach.
"Our boys team is still small — only eight boys,' said O'Neil. "We have two good freshmen in Weston Brousseau, who is Victoria's twin, and Cole Messics — and another new swimmer Gavin Leary.'