ABSECON — The Holy Spirit High School girls swimming team is back.
The Spartans girls swimming program disappeared last year due to low numbers, and the Holy Spirit girls swam on a coed team with boys.
But new Holy Spirit swimming coach Sari Carroll has numbers up for both girls and boys, and once again there will be two separate teams. She’ll be the head coach of both.
The girls team will once again be in the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference.
“I never thought we could do it, but there was a lot of interest,” said Carroll, 43. “I spoke with the athletic director, Steve Normane, about having a girls team again, and he wanted to do it.
“We’re really excited. The girls hated racing against the boys. We have 15 girls, and we’re expecting 12 to 15 boys on their team. Their numbers are up, too.”
The Spartans swim at the 25-yard pool at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School Complex in Atlantic City.
The CAL National Conference still has three coed teams, and Holy Spirit opened up on the road against one of them, Wildwood Catholic, on Tuesday.
When competing against a coed team, the boys and girls teams combine for the meet.
The Holy Spirit girls team gets its first separate meet at home 4 p.m. Friday against Lower Cape May Regional. The Holy Spirit boys team will also swim Lower.
“With Sari, there was more interest, and we had more girls come out,” Normane said. “We’re able to have two teams, and that’s the way we want it. She talked to the kids about it at an interest meeting and the kids were excited about it, so we made that move. Now the girls are able to compete on their own, which is awesome.
“Sari brings a lot of energy. It’s great to have her as the new coach.”
The Spartans will be led by returnees Grace Kaplan, Elle Summers, Halle Burns and Cassidy Ross.
Also back are Megan Baldwin, Bianca Gambino and Sydney Drexler. Newcomers include Sophie Sobinski, Maura McNulty and Lauren Tate.
“I’m really happy (to have a girls team again). It’s going to be a lot better,” said Summers, a 16-year-old junior and Egg Harbor Township resident. “I’m really excited. I think we’ll be a pretty good team. I swim everything, but freestyle is my best. Last year I swam the 500 every meet.
“There’s a lot more people this year, I didn’t expect so many. We’re going to have a good season.”
Carroll is active in the sport in other ways. A former Central Regional High School swimmer, she’s a club swimming coach at the Brigantine Aquatic Center and coaches the center’s Special Olympics swim team.
She was a volunteer assistant coach for Absegami for five years.
Carroll is also the assistant race director for the Atlantic City Around the Island Marathon Swim, which started again in July after several years.
The Holy Spirit assistant coach is Brie Lewis, a former club swimmer who was a USA Swimming coach for five years.
The Holy Spirit girls team has had several outstanding years, especially in 2007 when it won the state Non-Public A title, beating Red Bank Catholic 102-68.
“It’s going to be a team effort,” Carroll said. “We expect to be bigger next year. Over the next few years, I’m hoping we’ll be a championship program again.”