Neighborhood friendship flows into swimming successes

West Milford neighbors become big part of PCTI’s 2022 county championship swim victory

| 20 Jan 2022 | 08:57

Swimmers from around Passaic County descended upon Passaic County Technical Institute for the Passaic County Varsity Swimming Championships this past weekend. As the host Bulldogs raced to dual victories for PCTI, local West Milford boys’ performances were the key to what ended up being the highest team point total in boys’ county meet history.

Freshman Tyler Roer and Sophomore Zachary McKatten, residents of West Milford and next door neighbors, took first and second in the 100-yard backstroke, and both led off as part of two dramatic relay wins as well. In addition, Tyler added a second impressive victory in the 200-yard freestyle, while Zach raced to third in the 100-yard butterfly.

Tyler, along with Zach and his twin sister, Samantha, have lived next door to each other for twelve years. It didn’t take long for these High Crest residents to shift their interests from land to water, when they all decided to join the local summer lake swim team. After meeting many friends (and achieving some early swim success), the McKatten twins invited Tyler to try out for the Lakeland Hills YMCA swim team. The rest, as they say, is history. As the swimming became more competitive, the three neighbors remained close. Ultimately, they enrolled at PCTI, where they continue to enjoy success both in and out of the pool.

The bonds of the lake don’t end there. The West Milford High Crest Hurricanes are well represented this season throughout Passaic County. In addition to Tyler and Zach, PCTI teammates Mike DeMarco, Samantha McKatten, Thea DeMarco, and West Milford’s Owen and Molly Kane have been steadily contributing to their high school teams’ successes this year. In the summer, Thea coaches the Hurricanes, while Owen oversees the families at the beach, serving as a lifeguard.

Also, High Crest’s own Coach Michael Shale helped guide his high school girls’ Wayne Hills team to a strong second place showing at the meet. Clearly, the present and future of Passaic County swimming are in very good hands. Next stop, state sectionals!