The goals for Shore Regional senior Helen Grossman are simple:
Repeat and repeat.
Grossman, the three-time defending Monmouth County and Shore Conference Champion in the 100 butterfly, is looking to finish her career undefeated in that event, which is a rare feat.
“I definitely want to win in the 100 butterfly at the Monmouth County meet and at the Shore Conference meet,” Grossman said. “I’m also self-motivated, and I am definitely competitive. I like to win, but I also want to improve my times.”
Four years ago, Grossman shocked the Shore Conference with her fantastic freshman year, which included breaking school records in the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly in her first varsity meet. She later broke the 100 freestyle school record that season and became the new record-holder in the 100 butterfly at the Monmouth County and Shore Conference meets.
“When I had heard about her, I was hoping that she would decide to come to Shore Regional. Before she entered high school, Helen was already on the national scene for swimming,” Shore Regional swim coach Katie McGowan said. “Since her childhood, Helen was a swimming star, and when she started breaking records as a freshman, she was breaking records that weren’t recent for the most part. These records were years old.”
And McGowan wasn’t kidding. When Grossman broke the Monmouth County record in the 100 fly (56.57) in 2013, if formerly belonged to Holmdel’s Katie Miller (57.67) from 2003, and when Grossman broke the Shore Conference record in the 100 fly (56.77) in 2013, it formerly belonged to Monmouth Regional’s Jenna Seitz (57.29) from 2006.
Currently, Grossman, a three-time All-Shore first-team butterfly representative, holds the following school records: 200 medley relay, 1:56:69, 2015; 50 free, 24.26, 2014, 100 butterfly, 55.88, 2015 (which is also the Monmouth County record in this event); and the 100 freestyle, 54.09, 2013.
“Helen believes every race is a challenge even if she’s won it before and holds the meet record in it,” McGowan said. “She doesn’t take any race for granted.”
Last season, Grossman conquered Shore Conference competition in the 100 butterfly, winning at both the Monmouth County meet (55.88, meet record) and the Shore Conference meet (56.60). But she also went to the NJSIAA Meet of Champions for the first time in her career and had an outstanding debut at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology, the site of the two-day NJSIAA Meet of Champions.
Grossman swam a 56.38 in the butterfly in the preliminary round on Jan. 31 to quality for the championship heat on Feb. 1. On that day, Grossman swam a 55.53 to finish fourth in the state.
So how did Grossman become so good at the butterfly stroke?
“When I was younger I tried all the strokes. I was terrible at the breaststroke, and I swam the backstroke for a long time,” Grossman said. “But then I got better at the butterfly, and I just stuck with that.”
That determination led Grossman to secure a scholarship from LSU, and she signed her National Letter of Intent on Nov. 11 to swim for the Tigers.
“I went on several official visits, but overall I loved LSU and the atmosphere there (in Baton Rouge, Louisiana),” Grossman said. “They treat their athletes very well there, and in college I’ll swim the 100 and 200 butterfly.”
Sherlon Christie: email@example.com
Swimmers to watch
While Helen Grossman is one of the Shore Conference female swimmers to watch this season, here is a list of some other female and male swimmers to watch in the 2015-2016 season:
Jackson Memorial’s Anna Francisco, Kaitlin Idank, Gabby Wilson, Annalisa Giuliano
Manasquan’s Kathryn Petrone, Sarah Hegna, Sarah Brennan, Sophie Smith
Red Bank Catholic’s Sarah Nichols
Toms River East’s Marissa Wagner
Freehold Township’s Erianna Nguyen, Molly Griswold, Shannon McDade, Veronica Sowinski
Southern’s Gabrielle Cabaron
Ranney’s Audra Smires
Toms River North’s Marianne Molloy
CBA’s Tyler Kauth, Zach DiGiaro, John Hall, Kevin Volkov, Brian Tucker, John Shea, Jack Hoagland,
Donovan Catholic’s Dylan DelaCruz, Connor Payne,
Point Boro’s Joe Skimmons,
Rumson-Fair Haven’s Teddy Smith, Andrew Bunt
St. Rose’s Liam Cosgrove
Toms River South’s Maxwell Bernstein, Ethan Lucas
— Sherlon Christie