Swimmers honored at Lake Mohawk Pool
Long-time team members are off to college

High school seniors and soon to be college freshmen, from left, Bridget Hilgendorff, Ryan Ryersen and Lizzie Wolfe enjoy their last home meet as Hawks swimming for Lake Mohawk Pool. Not pictured, Samantha Russo. Photo by Rose Sgarlato

by Rose Sgarlato
SPARTA — In a special poolside ceremony at Lake Mohawk Pool, four outgoing swimmers were honored on July 31 for their dedication to the team: Ryan Ryerson, Bridget Hilgendorff, Samantha Russo and Lizzie Wolfe.
All are 18, have recently graduated high school and are heading off to college.
Most members of this gang have been a Lake Mohawk Hawk — the name of the Lake Mohawk Pool swim team — for more than half their lives, clocking in more than 10 years swimming in the summers for Lake Mohawk Pool, formerly known as The Cruiser Club. During the school year, they swim for either their high school or NJ Club team and sometimes both.
Their coach, Tim Holovacs has been onboard for 10 years, but his legacy at Lake Mohawk Pool dates back almost 30 years ago to when he swam competitively at the pool and also coached in summers.
“Tonight we honor our seniors, swimmers I have seen grow up over the years," Holovacs said. " I have too many fond memories of them all to recount here. These are four swimmers who we could count on to be the core of the team."
Hilgendorff and Wolfe have been on the team since 8 years old. They volunteered along the way to earn a coaching job.
“Bridget and Lizzie stuck with us, eventually moving up to become full fledged coaches who have been instrumental in teaching our younger swimmers the skills and the fun that make our team great,” Holovacs said. “Filling two roles, coach and swimmer, can be tough sometimes but I can always count on them both to hop in to anything we need them to swim while corralling the younger swimmers so our practices and meets run smoothly.”
Hilgendorff will attend Connecticut College in the fall but is giving swimming a break. Her favorite stroke is fly and best time is a 30.85.
“I love the Lake Mohawk Hawks Swim Team because everyone cheers each other on whether they're 8 or 18," Hilgendorff said. "When I'm racing and I see someone next to me I just know that I have to push myself to try and get the points for the team.”
Lizzie Wolfe will be attending Villanova University where she is entertaining joining the Club Team.
Samantha Russo, a Hawk for 10 years, will be attending Bloomsburg University and, though swimming is not on her agenda, she said she will miss “ the nerve and adrenaline rush" she gets right before diving in.
“It has always been a fun experience, something I look forward to every summer. Everyone is just so close. We are more like family,” Russo said.
Holovacs has fond memories of Russo.
“Sam Russo, who is unfortunately away for tonight’s meet, always kept the mood light and kept me laughing," he said. "Like the time when I was taking video of another swimmer's technique and Sam photo-bombed the video while passing by.”
Ryan Ryerson loves swimming because he enjoys seeing himself improve, especially in breaststroke, his favorite. He has been on the team for six years and will be attending Syracuse University, where he intends to pursue club swimming.
"I’ve always enjoyed swimming on the Hawks’ swim team as it is a great way to stay in shape, make friends and have fun," Ryerson said. "Helping the team win the meet drives me to beat the person in the lane next to me.”
“Ryan Ryerson could always be called upon to swim whatever we needed," Coach Holovacs said. "When he was, I think, 12 years old, we called him 'The Lady’s Man' because almost every meet we needed him to swim up with the 15-18 year old girls, so we could a field relay and keep competitive. He was always willing to step up and swim up, sometimes as much as two age groups, and do whatever was needed to help the team.”
Certainly these swimmers will be missed.
"These four swimmers have been great teammates and all of them will be sorely missed next year. Thank you all for being such an important part of our team,” Holovacs said.
The Lake Mohawk Pool is a longstanding private pool club, located on Lake Mohawk in Byram Township, which has no residency requirements for membership.