Cabaron Takes Over as Southern Girls Swim Program’s Career Points Leader
Earlier in the day on Jan. 27, Gabrielle Cabaron was battling a bit of a fever. But she wasn’t about to go to the nurse’s office, or else she would have been sent home and wouldn’t have been permitted to swim that evening.
“This was an important meet and my team needed me,” the senior said after the Southern Regional girls swim team smashed Toms River South, 106-64, at the St. Francis Aquatic Center. “Thankfully, the fever broke, so I was good enough to swim anyway. But there was no way I was missing the meet.”
And it’s a good thing she didn’t, because it would have ruined head coach Bill Entrikin’s plans to celebrate her crowning achievement – becoming Southern’s career points leader, which she did, easily, in the 100-yard breaststroke to break Julie Tate’s mark. Cabaron climbed onto the starting block for that race with 786.25 points, one shy of Tate’s record.
“I had no idea about any of this,” Cabaron said. “I had never even thought about the points record. And after the race, Abby (Abigael Coughlin) said, ‘You did it,” and I looked around and said, ‘What? What did I do?’ She told me I broke the all-time points record and I didn’t know what she was talking about. It’s crazy. I’m so high on adrenaline right now.”
Cabaron, Jacquelyn Kilcommons, Olivia Davis and Hannah Skimmons opened the meet with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:59.74, before Coughlin took the top spot in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:14.43. Cabaron then came right back and won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:19.95.
After Coughlin cruised to the top spot in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 6:15.69, Cabaron, Skimmons, Abigael Malandro and Laura Patterson won the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:48.45 and Kilcommons returned to win the 100-yard backstroke in 1:11.30. Then came Cabaron’s big moment.
With Tate’s 787.5 points set to fall, Cabaron fired off the block and immediately got out to a 3-yard lead on the first lap. Following the first turn, she pushed the lead to about 5 yards during the second lap. The gap faded slightly during the third lap, but a solid turn heading into the final lap put Cabaron’s lead back to about 5 yards and she cruised to the finish in first and touched the wall in 1:11.30.
Prior to the start of the 400-yard freestyle relay, officials stopped the meet to allow Entrikin to recognize Cabaron’s record. The former record-holder, now Julie Ulrich, was on hand to help acknowledge the new record-holder.
“When I visited last season, I watched Gabby and she was awesome,” said Ulrich, who graduated Southern in 2004. “I knew the record would be broken eventually, and Gabby is totally deserving. I loved being a part of this. It was an honor to pass the torch to her.”
Following the meet – ended by a first-place finish (4:13.85) from Davis, Malandro, Coughlin and Patterson – Cabaron’s record stood at 792.5 points and should go up a bit more during the next week or so, as the Rams head for the Shore Conference Championships and the NJSIAA tournament.
“I just want to be a good role model for my teammates,” said Cabaron, who holds all of Southern’s individual event records except for the 100 backstroke and has been part of all the relays that hold school records. “And, really, I wouldn’t be where I am now if not for them. They’re the ones who have pushed me all these years. They’ve cheered for me and encouraged me. So, this is as much about them as it is about me.
“This is definitely the exclamation point – five of them – to my career here. But there’s still more swimming to this season, so hopefully I can add to this and help lead the team to a few more wins.”
Entrikin said Cabaron’s dominance in the pool during her four years has been unmatched at any time in the program’s history.
“By the time Gabby’s done, she’s going to have maybe 16 to 18 fewer meets on her record than Julie did,” he said. “When Julie swam, we had fewer restrictions to how many meets we could have, so she benefited from having so many meets in a season. Gabby’s total was reached in a significantly shorter span, which is incredible.
“There’s no way to argue against who’s the best to come out of Southern now, at least not by any stat we have here. She holds almost every record and now has the most points ever. So, Gabby’s it.”
In addition to it being Senior Night, the celebration at St. Francis really went over the top after the Southern boys got by Toms River South, 92.5-77.5. The Indians won the first six events before Liam Moran won the 500 freestyle in 5:38.24.
South won the 200 free relay and the 100 backstroke, but Southern’s Aidan McInerney won in 1:17.16 to push the Rams out in front, and the team of William McInerney, John Loftus, Nolan Watson and Matthew Harvey capped the team win with a victory in the 400 free relay, clocking 3:43.86.
The Southern girls finished the regular season with 9-1 overall record, while the boys ended up 6-4.