EWING TOWNSHIP - The Ocean City and Chatham high school girls swimming teams both celebrated historic seasons Sunday.
Both posed with smiles for team pictures.
The cheers for Chatham, however, had a bit more enthusiasm.
Chatham beat Ocean City 99-71 to win the state Public B title at The College of New Jersey. Chatham won its fourth straight state title, and its seniors finished undefeated in their high school careers.
The loss did not take away from what was the best season in Ocean City girls swimming history. The Red Raiders won their first South Jersey title and reached the state final for the first time.
"We already made history for our school," sophomore Aly Chain said. "We already won South Jersey. It's so amazing even though we didn't win (Sunday)."
Fans of both schools packed the balcony to watch the state final. The Ocean City fans chanted "OC Raiders! OC Raiders!" throughout the meet.
Ocean City won five of 11 events. Red Raiders freshman Amanda Nunan won the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races. Ocean City senior Noel Styer finished first in the 50 and 100 freestyle races.
Nunan won the 200 freestyle by more than two seconds in 1 minute, 50.73 seconds. She swam a personal best of 4:50.66 in the 500 freestyle and won that event by more than five seconds.
But it was Chatham's depth and its second- and third-place finishes that made the difference.
"We had a great meet," Ocean City coach Kate Merz said. "They swam really fast. We had so many personal bests. You can't ask for more than that."
In addition to the individual victories, the Ocean City foursome of Chain, Gabby Breazeale, Nunan and Styer won the 200 freestyle relay in 1:38.68 seconds. The victory cut Chatham's lead 65-59 with eight of the 11 events completed.
But the Morris County school took control in the next two events. Chatham finished first, third and fourth in the 100 backstroke to build a 12-point lead. The Cougars then swept the top three places in the 100 breaststroke to clinch the meet.
Ocean City is a young team. The seniors felt the defeat more than the underclassmen did.
"I'm kind of heartbroken," Styer said. "It's rough. We have to be positive. They'll be back next year, but I won't be."
But Ocean City's season had so many firsts and big wins that not even the seniors could stay down for long.
"The whole season was a rush," Styer said. "We rode this wave of positivity. We came here (Sunday) ready to swim our fastest, and we did. Chatham came out on top, but we can't be anything but positive right now."
Contact Michael McGarry:
Chatham 99, Ocean City 51
Yard pool at The College of New Jersey
200 medley relay-Chatham (Madie Dobbs, Alicia Lizuka, Kara Miller-Radest, Margaret Harrigan) 1:50.40; 200 freestyle-Amanda Nunan OC. 1:50.73; 200 IM-Shana McLaughlin, CH, 2:08.35; 50 freestyle-Noel Styer OC. 23.77; 100 butterfly-Miller-Radest CH 58.82; 100 freestyle-Styer OC. 53.48; 500 freestyle-Nunan OC. 4:50.66; 200 freestyle relay-OC (Aly Chain, Gabby Breazeale, Nunan, Styer) 1:38.68; 100 backstroke-Jess Gorham CH. 59.40; 100 breaststroke-Lizuka CH. 1:04.90; 400 freestyle relay-CH (McLaughlin, Emily Gorham, Regan Kology, J. Gorham) 3:40.42
Records-Chatham 16-0; Ocean City 14-1