Freshmen Kylie Mackersie and Jordan Roland push each other and the rest of the Hamilton West swim team. (Staff photo by Rob Anthes.)

When the high school swim season concludes, Hamilton West freshman Jordan Roland can’t wait to see her name added to the record board along with her mom’s.

However, if her cousin and classmate has her way, that won’t last for long. Kylie Mackersie’s goal is to break her aunt’s school mark in the 100 breast. Mary Charbonneau set the standard of 1:23.10 in 1987—one of the longest-standing Hornet swim records.

“I really want to beat my aunt’s record,” Mackersie said. “That’s been my thing since I started swimming. We have the same birthday, too, so it’s kind of like one of those things where ‘OK, I have to beat that.’”

And Roland is all for that—but would like to share the board with her mom for at least one season.

“I just think it’s cool because it’s like two separate eras,” said Roland, who broke the 400 freestyle record in her first Hornet meet. “She was in high school and she made it, and I like to know when I look up there I can say ‘That’s my mom, and that’s me right above her,’ and we can be together on the record board. I just think it’s something cool that her record has lasted that long and now I’m there, too.”

It’s a pretty cool story; made even better by the fact the freshmen’s emergence could provide a good nucleus for coach Maria Ciaralli to build around. Club performers tend to swim on the opposite side of the township, or outside of Hamilton completely.

But West hit the jackpot with its new Hamilton Aquatics Club imports.

“They’ve been great,” boys’ team member Andrew Cruz said. “They were really unexpected coming in as newcomers.”

They were an unexpected pleasure for Ciaralli.

“I did not know about them,” the third-year coach said. “It was a surprise, we’re happy to have them this year. It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to four years with them.”

Ciaralli quickly discovered what she had in the Nov. 28 opening meet with Hopewell, when Roland swam a 5:05.48 to break the 9-year-old 400 free record by nearly three seconds. That mark lasted exactly one meet, as Roland finished in 5:00 flat against Lawrence.

“I was surprised; that’s the last thing I was looking at,” Jordan said. “I didn’t even look at that record. I was looking at the fly record, and then I got in the pool, and I’m like ‘I’m just gonna swim it.’ And I touched the wall and I was like ‘OK.’ I just wanted to get the win for my team.

“Somebody came over and said, ‘You broke the record!’ I was so shocked I didn’t even think about looking at the record before I swam my first meet. It was such a good surprise because I didn’t expect it.”

Don’t be surprised if expectations for the dynamic duo begin to rise quickly as they bring a wealth of talent and experience to the Hornets.

They are related through their moms, as Catherine Mackersie is Mary Roland’s sister. As kids, both followed Mary’s lead.

“It’s funny, we actually took swim lessons here at West when we were five or six,” said Mackersie while sitting at the side of the pool after a West win over Trenton. “I’ve always loved swimming. I like water, and the pool. It’s basically my therapy. When I’m stressed, I know I can come here and swim it off and everything leaves my head. It just helps me.”
The cousins joined HAC at age 7 and automatically made each other their fiercest rival, since that’s what close-knit cousins do.

“That was interesting,” Mackersie said. “She’s my biggest competition. I always have to push myself 10 times harder. I’m like ‘OK, I have to do good, she’s here too.’”

Roland feels it’s a healthy competition, as the two are great at pushing each other.

“We’re best friends; it’s like, ‘Who’s gonna win, me or her?’” she said. “In the short distance races, it’s like, we’ll be looking at each other across the pool, and I would see her look at me, I’d look at her and I’m like ‘I gotta keep swimming. But it’s just for fun. It just helps us get better.”

They have both been pretty good in high school so far. In the season’s first two meets, Roland won the 50 and 400 freestyles. She followed by winning the butterfly against Lawrence; the 200 IM against Trenton and IM and butterfly against Princeton. In her first five meets, Mackersie won the 100 free once, the fly once and the breast twice.

“They have great dedication,” Ciaralli said. “They’ve been swimming for years now. They have good sportsmanship, they cheer on their teammates and have great techniques. They’re really good friends and they’re a little similar when it comes to swimming.”

The two have enjoyed the camaraderie of high school swimming and the team concept, as opposed to the single-mindedness of club swimming. Despite being newcomers, their experience is beyond most of their teammates and they hope to make Hamilton a program on the rise.

“I love to encourage people to be better than they think they can be,” Mackersie said. “A lot of them come to us and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you’re so good.’ And I tell them it’s a lot of work and that they can be like that, too. They just have to believe in themselves and push themselves as much as we do.”

Roland feels that she and Mackersie can be the kind of examples that may ignite interest in swimming at West. Perhaps more high school students will come out, or younger girls in the district may be influenced.

“I think seeing two freshmen come in that are good in the sport helps motivate everybody,” Roldan said. “They start to think, ‘Well, if you start younger, start at HAC, you can build up your speed over time.’ They can come here to Hamilton, help the records get faster, help the team get bigger and stronger and we can start winning meets against Steinert and the better schools.”

Speaking of records, Roland loves her mom, but wouldn’t mind seeing her cousin replace her on the record board. But not right away, of course, as she wants to at least take a picture of mother-daughter up there together.

“I’d love to see Kylie and me together on the board,” Roldan said. “My mom’s getting nervous. She said it’s been up there for a long time. I know she will break it, because we have four years. We’re gonna be here for a while.”

Which is good news indeed for Hamilton West swimming.