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Ocean City Girls Pull Away From Oakcrest in Playoff Opener

The win sets up a rematch with Mainland in the semifinals.

Patch File Photo
Patch File Photo
In her fourth year on the team, Ocean City High School senior swimmer Rachel Chain is helping her team achieve unprecedented success.

She’s helped the Red Raiders swim team to an 11-0 record and the first conference championship since the Cape-Atlantic League separated into divisions.

They won their fourth consecutive division title, and they’re making a run at the program’s first South Jersey, and possibly state, championship.

And she’s sharing the moment with her younger sister, Aly.

The sisters combined for five wins in second-seeded Ocean City’s 103-66 dismantling of No. 7 Oakcrest in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group B playoffs at the Ocean City Aquatics and Fitness Center on Thursday.

Ocean City hosts No. 3 Mainland in the semifinals on Monday. The Red Raiders defeated the Mustangs, 109-61, in the Cape-Atlantic League championship meet on Jan. 28. It's Mainland's only loss of the season.

On Thursday, Aly Chain came away with three wins. She captured the 200 IM in 2:38.29; the 400 freestyle in 4:58.61; and was part of the 400 freestyle relay team (4:19.12) along with Erin Myers, Amber Glenn and Amanda Nunan.

Rachel Chain won the 100-meter butterfly in 1:11.09 and was part of the winning 200 freestyle relay team (1:56.04) along with Nunan, Myers and Gabby Breazeale.

Glenn was also a double winner, capturing the 200 freestyle in 2:16.23.

Senior Noel Steur won the 100 backstroke in 1:13.37.

Steur and Rachel Chain are among six seniors on the team, along with Julie Cusack, Audrey Baker, Rachel Matousch and Natalie McKenna.

“At this point, I treat every race like it could be my last high school race,” Rachel Chain said.

It’s fitting that she shares her last few races being on the same team as her sister. The two have been swimming together for about eight years.

“Since the time I started swimming, she wanted to swim,” Rachel Chain said. “I got in the pool, and she got in the pool. Every time I moved up, she would come with me.”

They’re on competing relays during meets, and last year, they competed in the same individual races, too.

That was when Aly was a freshman. As a sophomore, she’s established her own set of races. Now that they are in different races, they can each cheer the other on.

“When one of us is in the water, the other is cheering her on,” Aly Chain said. “We’re right there screaming at each other.”

The girls could be preparing to cheer each other on to a championship.

With six seniors on the team Ocean City has a sense of maturity and unity, Rachel Chain said.

“Everyone’s equal, so the pressure’s a little more spread out,” Rachel Chain said. “We’re able to have fun and cheer more, which is important. I like being able to goof around. Having someone right behind me who’s able to make me smile is a relief.”

“The seniors are having a great year, and it’s fun to be a part of,” Aly Chain said. “Their enthusiasm influences the younger grades.”

Throughout the lineup, school records are falling. The team’s broken too many records for coach Kate Merz to count, but she said this team owns just about all of them.

“All the girls on this team are leaders,” Merz said. “ … We all have the same goal. They’re working harder this year and paying more attention to details. “

Ocean City was eliminated from the playoffs in the semifinals last year.

“This is hopefully just the first of five meets,” Merz said. “It’s not over yet. We have a long way to go. This is just the first meet.”

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