Atlantic City High School senior swimmer Melissa Toy will follow in her father’s footsteps when she swims at an NCAA Division I school next year.
The 17-year-old Ventnor resident and two-time Press first-team All-Star verbally committed to Towson University in Maryland on Oct. 24.
Her father Mike, a retired Atlantic City beach patrol captain, was a swimmer and coach at Drexel University.
“I really wanted to swim at a Division I school so I could keep advancing my swimming career and get better and improve,” Toy said. “I definitely wanted to make my decision in November so I could get it out of the way and focus more on school and swimming for this year.”
As a freshman, Melissa Toy helped Atlantic City win its first South Jersey Public A championship with a 105-65 victory over Vineland.
At Towson, she will join another successful program. The Tigers compete in the Colonial Athletic Association, which they won from the 2007-2008 season until 2010-2011. Last season, Towson finished second.
The program has a 135-39 record in 15 years under coach Pat Mead. The Tigers are 2-0 to start this season.
Toy received a partial athletic and academic scholarship. The sprinter hopes to study biology and become a physical therapist. Biology is one of the top majors at the university and with the team.
Toy was also considering Rider University in Lawrenceville.
“I thought the swimming program (at Towson) was a better fit for me, and I really liked the team and the coach,” Toy said. “I’m hoping that I’ll continue to have the same success in college and hopefully be a big contributor toward the team.”
Last season, Toy dominated the 100 freestyle in dual meets and finished 10th in a school-record time 53.03 seconds at the Meet of Champions. She won the event at the Cape-Atlantic League Individual Championships, along with the Hackney and Coaches Invitational. She also swam the freestyle leg of the state championship winning 200 medley relay that finished in a school-record time of 1:48.66.
Mike Toy credits his daughter’s success to her coaches — Atlantic City head coach Bill Howarth and Egg Harbor Township Seahawks club coach Brian Elko.
“She always said she wants to get faster and see how good she can be,” Mike Toy said. “Where she’s going everyone is serious and seems to get faster. The coach (Mead) is very similar to Billy Howarth and Brian Elko — very serious people that want to see the kids do the best they can.
“A lot of kids get to college and try to have fun away from home but not many kids keep on training and reaching their potential. These kids (at Towson) seem to do that. It sounds like a family atmosphere and everyone works together and gets better together.”
Contact Kelly Ashe: